Rufus Reid and Kenny Barron

November 18, 2023

Pianist Kenny Barron is being honored as a Jazz Masters Giant of Jazz on Saturday, November 25, at the South Orange Performing Arts Center (see cover story of this month’s Jersey Jazz Magazine). In the early 1980s, bassist Rufus Reid, last year’s honoree, and Barron would play into the wee hours of the morning at the iconic Greenwich Village venue, Bradley’s. That followed a full day of teaching at William Paterson for Reid and Rutgers for Barron. Reid missed the deadline for the Jersey Jazz article on Barron, so we’re featuring some of his comments here.

The Bradley’s gigs, he said, “were special. “We played six nights a week, began at 10 p.m. and finished at 2 a.m. We both arrived somewhat low key after a long day, but the moment we started to play, Kenny was ON. I had no choice. He makes me play better. At 2 a.m., we were wide awake.”

Reid has known Barron for more than 40 years. During those years, he said, “We have performed and recorded on various occasions in many different musical settings, from a duo to quintets. Kenny Barron is the most consistent musician I know. He is such an impeccable musician who should be honored all over the world, and I am so pleased he is being given the 2023 Jazz Masters award.”

In August 1991, Barron, Reid, and drummer Victor Lewis recorded an album called The Moment on the Reservoir label. Reviewing it for AllMusic, Ken Dryden wrote: “This trio date, with the superb rhythm section of bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Victor Lewis, is one of Barron’s most essential releases from the entire decade . . . Highly recommended.”

You can look forward to seeing Barron and Reid together again on November 25.

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