2020 Biamp PDX Jazz Festival presents Kenny Barron + John Medeski
February 26, 2020 | 8:00 pm- $35
Honored by The National Endowment for the Arts as a Jazz Master, Kenny Barron has an unmatched ability to mesmerize audiences with his elegant playing, sensitive melodies and infectious rhythms. The Los Angeles Times named him “one of the top jazz pianists in the world” and Jazz Weekly calls him “the most lyrical piano player of our time.”
Kenny was born in Philadelphia in 1943 and while a teenager, started playing professionally with Mel Melvin’s orchestra. This local band also featured Barron’s brother Bill, the late tenor saxophonist. While still in high school, Kenny worked with drummer Philly Joe Jones and at age 19, he moved to New York City and freelanced with Roy Haynes, Lee Morgan and James Moody, after the tenor saxophonist heard him play at the Five Spot. Upon Moody’s recommendation Dizzy Gillespie hired Barron in 1962 without even hearing him play a note. It was in Dizzy’s band where Kenny developed an appreciation for Latin and Caribbean rhythms. After five years with Dizzy, Barron played with Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, and Buddy Rich. The early seventies found Kenny working with Yusef Lateef who Kenny credits as a key influence in his art for improvisation. Encouraged by Lateef to pursue a college education, Barron balanced touring with studies and earned his B.A. in Music from Empire State College. By 1973 Kenny joined the faculty at Rutgers University as professor of music. He held this tenure until 2000, mentoring many of today’s young talents including David Sanchez, Terence Blanchard and Regina Bell. In 1974 Kenny recorded his first album as a leader for the Muse label, entitled “Sunset To Dawn.” This was to be the first in over 40 recordings (and still counting!) as a leader.
Following stints with Ron Carter in the late seventies, Kenny formed a trio with Buster Williams and Ben Riley, which also worked alongside of Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Eddie Harris, Sonny Stitt and Harry “Sweets” Edison. Throughout the 80’s Barron collaborated with the great tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, touring with his quartet and recording several legendary albums including “Anniversary”, “Serenity” and the Grammy nominated “People Time”. Also during the ’80s, he co-founded the quartet “Sphere,” along with Buster Williams, Ben Riley and Charlie Rouse. This band focused on the music of Thelonious Monk and original compositions inspired by him. Sphere recorded several outstanding projects for the Polygram label, among them “Four For All” and “Bird Songs.” After the death of Charlie Rouse, the band took a 15-year hiatus and reunited, replacing Rouse with alto saxophonist Gary Bartz. This reunion made its debut recording for Verve Records in 1998.
Famed keyboardist John Medeski is not easily contained to a single project or genre; he is credited on over 300 works to date, most notably as one third of the groundbreaking trio Medeski Martin & Wood.
Equally comfortable behind a Steinway grand piano, Hammond organ or any number of vintage keyboards, Medeski is a highly sought after improviser and band leader whose projects range from work with John Zorn, The Word (Robert Randolph, North Mississippi Allstars), Phil Lesh, Don Was, John Scofield, Coheed & Cambria, Susana Baca, Sean Lennon, Marc Ribot, Irma Thomas, Blind Boys of Alabama, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and many more. Classically trained, Medeski grew up in Ft.Lauderdale, FL where as a teenager he played with Jaco Pastorius before heading north to attend the New England Conservatory. He released his first solo piano record, A Different Time, on Sony’s Okeh Records in 2013, and current projects include a new album in the works with his band MadSkillet (Terrence Higgins, Kirk Joseph, Will Bernard), and HUDSON (a collaboration with Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield & Larry Grenadier), plus a documentary on Medeski Martin & Wood.