Kenny Barron

In Tandem

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This duo concert by pianist Kenny Barron and guitarist Ted Dunbar is excerpted from a 1975 concert at Rutgers University, where both of them were teaching at the time. Barron and Dunbar (who made a number of recordings, but very few as a leader or co-leader) mesh very well together, though the liner notes don't make clear whether they had worked together previously. The duo tracks are long but never run out of gas. In the two musicians' exploration of "Summertime," Barron provides a modal-type backing line (sounding a bit like McCoy Tyner at times) as Dunbar's blistering solo takes the initial spotlight; the pianist seems strangely buried in the mix during his solo, even though it matches his partner's intensity. They jointly composed "Aruba," a piece that successfully blends elements of the Caribbean with adventurous post-bop, during which they are unable to resist the temptation to quote fellow jazzman Sonny Rollins' calypso hit, "St. Thomas." There are also solo features for each man. Barron's interpretation of "Here's That Rainy Day" has Tatum-like rapid-fire flourishes, running through a variety of piano styles in an impressive performance. Dunbar's surprising choice of "On the Trail" as his solo feature finds him making great use of space during his tour de force rendition. Out of print since the end of the LP era, this 1980 record deserves to be reissued.

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