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RealTracks Artist Bio: Kenny Barron

Among jazz musicians, especially in New York City, Kenny Barron is considered an institution. He arrived in the city in 1961 at age 18, following his older brother, the noted tenor saxman Bill Barron. In his native Philadelphia, the classically trained Barron had his introduction to jazz with Philly Joe Jones' and Jimmy Heath before moving to Detroit and working with Yusef Lateef. In New York he played on his brother's album "The Tenor Stylings of Bill Barron" and then joined James Moody, who introduced him to Dizzy Gillespie.

In five years of touring and recording with Dizzy Gillespie Barron developed an appreciation of be-bop and latin music, and established himself as a solid and adaptable sideman, setting the stage for his associations with influential jazz groups over the next 15 years. These included Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Yusef Lateef, Roy Haynes, Lou Donaldson, Buddy Rich, and Chet Baker. During this time he earned his B.A. in Music from Empire State College and joined the faculty of Rutgers University, where he taught music theory, jazz composition, and arranging.

Barron was a member of the Ron Carter Quartet from 1976 to 1980, when he cofounded the Thelonius "Sphere" Monk tribute group called Sphere. The group recorded eight albums in the 1980s, and it was during this time that Barron emerged as a composer. His compositions have also been featured in film scores and documentaries.

In 1986 he formed a memorable association with tenor sax legend Stan Getz, touring the world and recording up until Getz's death in 1991. That was also the year of their final duet release, "People Time," to critical raves and a Grammy Award nomination.

Throughout the years, Barron never stopped working as a leader and sideman with all sorts of distinguished groups and artists, and the 1990s saw him branching out with projects like "Sambao," his tribute to Brazilian music, moving away from mainstream jazz with Charlie Haden and Ornette Coleman, and recording a jazz funk classic, "Swamp Sally." He also co-founded the jazz label Joken Records with his manager, Joanne Klein, with a particular interest in developing young artists. In 1999 he retired from Rutgers and joined the faculty of The Manhattan School of Music.

Kenny Barron received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Fellowship in 2010. He has also been voted Best Jazz Pianist by Jazz Times, Downbeat, and Jazziz magazines, and is a seven-time recipient of the Jazz Journalists Association's "Best Pianist" honors. In 2005 he was inducted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame and in 2009 he was named a Living Legacy by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. He is still touring, recording, and coming up with new and innovative projects such as the Classical Jazz Quartet with his long-time friend and colleague Ron Carter.

The official Kenny Barron web site is at

There is also a lengthy biography at and a comprehensive discography at

Kenny Barron plays these RealTracks:

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