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Jazz Spotlight

March 06, 1994|ZAN STEWART

KENNY BARRON

"Other Places"

Verve

* * * 1/2

Barron delivers, as usual. Here's another first-rate program of engaging originals, and a pair of standards, presented with elan by a dynamic cast: Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), Ralph Moore (saxes), Rufus Reid (bass), Victor Lewis (drums) and Mino Cinelu (percussion).

The leader, arguably the finest modern mainstream pianist around, balances the recording between vibrant, upbeat numbers, which swing like mad and demand energized improvisations from the crew, and more somber, thoughtful pieces, which allow for more emotional statements.

For example, there's a dark edge to the fast "Anywhere," but that mood is all but forgotten when the subsequent and oozing slow "Other Places" arrives. Likewise, the thrust of "Wildlife" is countered by the ballad "I Should Care."

The soloists are beyond reproach. Hutcherson constantly plays enthusiastic, intelligent lines, Moore mixes sharply separated tones with gushing bursts and Barron ties small strands of appealing ideas into alluring wholes.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).

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