An espresso with…
Kenny Barron

Image Credits: Kenny Barron © Philippe Lévy-Stab

April 9, 2018

Great Jazz history witness 

Thanks to a career full of collaborations with many of the greatest artists, Kenny Barron represents a precious witness and actor in the history of jazz of the last 50 years.
> Ivano Rossato

Your last album Book of intuition (impulse!) was released in 2016, what are you working on now?
The next record is ready and will be probably released in April. It has been recorded in quintet with the same rhythm session, Kiyoshi Kitagawa on double bass and Johnathan Blake on drums, with the addition of Mike Rodriguez on trumpet and Dayna Stephens on tenor sax. It will contain mainly original compositions.
Throughout your career, you have played with many great musicians, what do they all have in common?
Their consistency is in the high level in which they play. Stan Getz, Ron Carter… they all play at a very high level and they have been a motivation for me. They made me learn to listen and pay attention, and to practice more. Musically, I’m looking for somebody who takes chances, somebody who has swing. And also somebody who is gonna kick my butt! Who’s not gonna make it safe for me, somebody that enables me to take chances.
What is the most important lesson you are trying to teach to young musicians?
The most important lesson is to learn to listen. Listen and play with musicians better than you. Practicing and studying a lot is fantastic, but to give all this a practical sense you have to play in real life situations.
Nowadays, is the musician still able to convey a cultural, political and social message?
Of course, it’s not just about entertainment. It’s about making a statement about politics, culture and various aspects of life through your music. And it’s important to do that. For example recently, at the Grammys in New York, there were lot of political statements been made about our president and the various things happening in US. Not everyone likes this, somebody thinks that artists should not have a political opinion. But I think that everybody should have an opinion and everyone is titled to express it.
Compared to when you started your career as a professional musician, the recording market has changed a lot; what do you think about it?
Streaming can sometimes be unfair to musicians. Recently, the United States Congress has sat that those streaming services should recognize more to the artist. I think this is the right direction. But in the end, unless of course you record a big hit, for a jazz musician, earnings have always come from concerts and it will always be like that.
Kenny Barron Jazzespresso jazz magazine Rossato Interview

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