2015 winner of DownBeat magazine’s Critics Poll for Best Piano Artist of the Year, pianist Kenny Barron has an unmatched ability to mesmerize audiences with his elegant playing, sensitive melodies and infectious rhythms. The Los Angeles Times calls the Philadelphia native “one of the top jazz pianists in the world,” and Jazz Weekly calls him “the most lyrical piano player of our time.”
He appears in Kalamazoo with trio members Kiyoshi Kitagawa on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums.
Reserved table seating and general admission balcony seating in a jazz club setting. Beverages available for purchase in the lobby.
Please note that tables 1-8 have a partially obstructed view of the stage.
Dinner and a Show: Make it a full night out! The Gilmore has partnered with Millennium Restaurant Group to offer a 6 p.m. dinner reservation at Martell’s following the 4 p.m. performance! Reserve your table online or call the box office at (269) 359-7311.
Honored by The National Endowment for the Arts as a 2010 Jazz Master, Kenny Barron has an unmatched ability to mesmerize audiences with his elegant playing, sensitive melodies and infectious rhythms. The Los Angeles Times named him “one of the top jazz pianists in the world” and Jazz Weekly calls him “The most lyrical piano player of our time.”
Philadelphia is the birthplace of many great musicians, including one of the undisputed masters of the jazz piano: Kenny Barron. Kenny was born in 1943 and while a teenager, started playing professionally with Mel Melvin’s orchestra. This local band also featured Barron’s brother Bill, the late tenor saxophonist.
While still in high school. Kenny worked with drummer Philly Joe Jones and at age 19, he moved to New York City and freelanced with Roy Haynes, Lee Morgan and James Moody, after the tenor saxophonist heard him play at the Five Spot. Upon Moody’s recommendation Dizzy Gillespie hired Barron in 1962 without even hearing him play a note. It was in Dizzy’s band where Kenny developed an appreciation for Latin and Caribbean rhythms. After five years with Dizzy, Barron played with Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, and Buddy Rich. The early seventies found Kenny working with Yusef Lateef who Kenny credits as a key influence in his art for improvisation. Encouraged by Lateef, to pursue a college education, Barron balanced touring with studies and earned his B.A. in Music from Empire State College, By 1973, Kenny joined the faculty at Rutgers University as professor of music. He held this tenure until 2000, mentoring many of today’s young talents including David Sanchez, Terence Blanchard and Regina Bell. In 1974 Kenny recorded his first album as a leader for the Muse label, entitled “Sunset To Dawn.” This was to be the first in over 40 recordings (and still counting!) as a leader.
Kenny Barron’s own recordings for Verve have earned him nine Grammy nominations beginning in 1992 with “People Time” an outstanding duet with Stan Getz followed by the Brazilian influenced “Sambao and most recently for “Freefall” in 2002. Other Grammy nominations went to “Spirit Song”, “Night and the City” (a duet recording with Charlie Haden) and “Wanton Spirit” a trio recording with Roy Haynes and Haden. It is important to note that these three recordings each received double-Grammy nominations (for album and solo performance.) His CD, “Canta Brasil” (Universal France) linked Barron with Trio de Paz in a fest of original Brazilian jazz, and was named Critics Choice Top Ten CDs of 2003 by JazzIz Magazine. His 2004 release, Images (Universal France) was inspired by a suite originally commissioned by The Wharton Center at Michigan State University and features multi-Grammy nominated vibraphonist Stefon Harris. The long awaited trio sequel featuring Ray Drummond and Ben Riley, The Perfect Set, Live At Bradley’s, Part Two (Universal France/Sunnyside) was released October 2005.
Bassist and composer Kiyoshi Kitagawa is an integral part of today’s jazz scene. Born in Osaka, Japan in 1958, Kiyoshi began playing the guitar at the age of 14. He switched to the acoustic bass at the age of 19. Kiyoshi began his career by playing at various clubs in Kansai area, and quickly became the most sought-after bassist in Japan.
In October 1988, Kiyoshi relocated to New York City. Soon after, he met Winard Harper at Blue Note’s jam session and joined the Harper Brothers. In September 1989, he appeared at the Village Vanguard with the group and their live recording “Remembrance: Live at The Village Vanguard” was extremely well received. That same year, Kiyoshi went on to work with Andy Bey as well. By 1993, Kiyoshi established himself as a much in demand bassist on the New York City jazz scene. He has toured and recorded with the alto great Kenny Garrett with drummer Brian Blade as well as the Jimmy Heath Quartet, which he spent more than ten years as a regular bassist. That same year, he joined Kenny Barron Trio on the recommendation of a legendary drummer Ben Riley and has been working with him since then.
Kiyoshi also joined Ben Riley Quartet with Ted Dumber and Steve Nelson as well as Terell Stafford Quartet. In 1996, he formed The Trio with a versatile Japanese pianist, Makoto Ozone.
Demand for Kiyoshi’s talents has led to work with legendary musicians including Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Kirkland, John Hicks, Ronnie Mathews, Mulgrew Miller, Steven Scott, Cedar Walton, Steve Wilson, Gary Bartz, Jaleel Shaw, Frank Wess, Eddie Henderson, Mike Rodriguez, Steve Turre, Steve Nelson, Brian Blade, Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath, Victor Lewis, Lewis Nash, Ben Riley, Jeff Watts, and The Maria Schneider Orchestra.
Johnathan Blake, one of the most accomplished drummers of his generation, has also proven himself a complete and endlessly versatile musician — “the ultimate modernist,” as John Murph of NPR has dubbed him. Blake’s gift for composition and band leading, so ably demonstrated on his 2012 recording debut The Eleventh Hour, reflects years of live and studio experience across the aesthetic spectrum.
Through years-long memberships in the Tom Harrell Quintet, the Kenny Barron Trio and other top ensembles, Blake has reaped the benefits of prolonged exposure to the greats of our time — arguably of all time. Through his powerful, evocative drumming and fully rounded artistry, he’s also left a huge imprint on the music of such rising figures in jazz as Hans Glawischnig, Alex Sipiagin, Donny McCaslin, Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital, Patrick Cornelius, Michael Janisch, Shauli Einav, Jaleel Shaw and more. To date, Blake has appeared on over 50 albums.
Born in Philadelphia in 1976, Johnathan Blake is the son of renowned jazz violinist John Blake, Jr. — himself a stylistic chameleon and an important ongoing influence. After beginning on drums at age 10, Johnathan gained his first performing experience with the Lovett Hines Youth Ensemble, led by the renowned Philly jazz educator. It was during this period, at Hines’s urging, that Blake began to compose his own music. Later he worked with saxophonist Robert Landham in a youth jazz ensemble at Settlement Music School.
Blake graduated from George Washington High School and went on to attend the highly respected jazz program at William Paterson University, where he studied with Rufus Reid, John Riley, Steve Wilson and Horace Arnold. At this time Blake also began working professionally with the Oliver Lake Big Band, Roy Hargrove and David Sanchez. In 2006 he was recognized with an ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award, and in 2007 he earned his Masters from Rutgers University, focusing on composition. He studied with the likes of Ralph Bowen, Conrad Herwig and Stanley Cowell.