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JAZZ REVIEW : Barron Entrances, Enriches With Twists on the Piano

July 29, 1994|ZAN STEWART and * Kenny Barron plays today through Sunday, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. (7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday), at the Jazz Bakery, 3221 Hutchison Ave., Culver City. $15, refreshments included. Information: (310) 271-9039.

With turns angular and aggressive, sumptuously melodic and ardently swinging, pianist Kenny Barron opened his first Los Angeles club run in 15 years Wednesday at the Jazz Bakery.

Accompanied by the sure hands of bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Sherman Ferguson, Barron, 51, was resplendent. Still, in the course of his first set, he gave listeners not only a history of jazz piano, but also an unspoken demonstration of what jazz is all about.

Packed discretely into Barron's versions of "There Is No Greater Love," "Rhythm-A-Ning," "Embraceable You" and an excruciatingly lovely "Body and Soul" were stride gallops, jack-rabbit runs, smooth lines that gleamed like garlands of pearls held up to a lamp, boppish phrases that twisted like a DNA double helix, humor-driven chordal whams and atonal whirls.

But more than part and parcel, what the enthusiastic audience at the Bakery really heard was Barron, the complete artist who wove these multifarious facets into a style that both entranced and enriched. For the pianist is the kind of artist who, on cursory listen, delivers bouquets of gorgeous notes, but with deeper attention paid, goes beyond mere offerings of beauty to reveal the emotional range of human existence. It is hard to imagine not being touched by what he plays.

Simpkins and Ferguson provided Barron with easy-chair comfort and support despite the lack of a rehearsal; this band should be quite something by the end of its engagement Sunday.

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