Kenny Barron – Canta Brasil
(Sunnyside – 2002)
by Shaun Dale
Canta Brasil is pianist Kenny Barron’s most intensive exploration of Brazilian music since 1993’s Grammy-nominated Sambao, and it is unquestionably one of the finest marriages of a North American jazz musician and a Latin rhythm section I’ve ever heard.
Barron’s principle accomplices are Trio Da Paz, a Brazilian rhythm section he discovered while they were playing a regular coffehouse gig in NYC. He incorporated them into his act, adding flautist Anne Drummond and percussionist Valtinho to the bass, drums and acoustic guitar (contributed by Nilson Matta, Duduka Da Fonseca and Romero Lubambo respectively) of Trio Da Paz. Together, they’ve played the club and festival circuit as Kenny Barron’s Canta Brasil, and that experience as a working band rather than a studio project is a major factor in the success of this album.
The disc features five tracks composed by Barron for the ensemble, along with one from each member of Trio Da Paz. Barron is generous both as a composer and performer, providing copious room for his compatriots to display their talents. In fact, while Barron’s name is on the cover, the enduring impression I come away from the album with is the marriage of Lubambo’s guitar and Drummond’s flute, although there are impressive contributions and solos from all of the players.
Kenny Barron is widely respected as one of the most creative and consistent mainstream players, and this outstanding effort can only enhance that reputation.