Picks and Pans Review: Autumn in New York

updated 03/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

Kenny Barron

Since he arrived in New York in 1961 fresh from high school in Philadelphia (where he had already worked with Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Heath and Yusef Lateef), pianist Barron has seldom been idle. He has anchored the bands of Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Lateef again, Ron Carter and Joe Henderson; he has played on more than 50 albums but often steps out in solo, trio and larger formats to reveal fully his commanding fluidity and invention. This date, with the outstanding support of bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Frederick Waits (who used to call himself Freddie), is one of Barron's best outings. Barron's touch is strong and precise, yet his phrases flow with a beguiling, dovetailed lightness that recalls Wynton Kelly. His clarity adds to the breathtaking momentum he develops in the opener, New York Attitude, a winging Barron original. The title cut, by Vernon Duke, brings out Barron's lyrical side, with long, skating lines and an almost bell-like tone in the right hand. Also memorable is the left-hand counterpoint he improvises under the recirculating theme of Thelonious Monk's Bemsha Swing as the song opens. Barron's ascending left-hand line gives the theme a call-and-response quality that fits so well it becomes part of the composition itself, as if it were there all the time waiting to be discovered. He turns the melody into Bemsha à la Barron. (Uptown)

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