The older brother of pianist Kenny Barron, tenor saxophonist Bill Barron spent 15 years chairing the music department at Wesleyan University, though he managed to record a few records prior to and after that portion of his career. This compilation was drawn from his private archive of live recordings, maintained by his widow who leased them to Cadence Jazz for issue. The performances heard here, dating from concerts with fellow faculty members between 1984 and 1985, show a side of Barron not as familiar to those who heard his regular albums. "Waiting for You" is a fascinating spontaneous creation beginning with solo sax, then adding vibraphonist Jay Hoggard and pianist Fred Simmons, tuba player Bill Lowe, and bassist Bill Brown as the piece evolves while awaiting the arrival of drummer Ed Blackwell, who was running late for the engagement. The full group is present for the leader's driving "Blues in B Flat Minor," showcasing his robust tenor. Simmons' solo interpretation of "My Funny Valentine" is simultaneously dark and gorgeous. With Lowe switching to trombone, the band offers an inventive interpretation of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." Hopefully this CD will sell well enough to justify additional collections of the late Bill Barron's performances, as this initial volume widens the listener's appreciation of a man who was not recorded nearly enough during his lifetime.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden