Regular readers of my blog know that I’m a big fan of Kenny Barron. To me, he’s the ultimate partner for duos, see for example his great collaboration with Dave Holland, The Art Of Conversation (reviewed here), or the amazing live work with Stan Getz on People Time (see Musicophile’s 25 Essential Jazz Albums).
So when Kenny came out with a new trio album on Impulse, I obviously had to check it out.
Book of Intuition (Impulse 2016)
Kenny Barron plays with Kiyoshi Kitagawa on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums here. The trio has been working together for a while, but this is apparently their first recording as a trio.
Unfortunately, while I’m still a huge fan of Kenny, I’m getting more of a mixed impression from this album.
The first for tracks are Kenny Barron originals.
Let’s start with the opening track, Magic Dance, an medium tempo track with some latin elements in the groove. In a live concert, this could be a nice warm-up, but on a recorded album, it kind of leaves me a bit cold. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing special either.
The next track, Bud Like, although this is already picking up on drive and swing, it still isn’t something that get’s me fully excited. Cook’s Bay is again solid swing.
Where Kenny and his trio really shine are on slower tracks. The first example is In The Slow Lane. Another beautiful example is the Monk composition Light Blue, where Kenny plays essentially solo.
Probably my favorite track on the album is the ballad Nightfall, and here you get again all I like about this amazing pianist. And maybe I just like Johnathan Blake best when he uses brushes? Kitagawa also gets to solo here, and his sound is just beautiful.
So in a nutshell, would I recommend this album? Yes and no. I wouldn’t call it an essential addition to the catalogue of Jazz Trio albums, but it certainly has very beautiful moments. I encourage you to check it out on a streaming site before buying.
My rating: 3-4 stars (3 stars for the uptempo tracks, 4 for the slower ones)