Bill Barron

West Side Story Bossa Nova

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Bill Barron spent a good deal of his music career as a jazz educator, though he made many valuable recordings in the early '60s and also near the end of his life. Unfortunately, few of them have been reissued during the CD era, so the return of this long-out-of-print studio date (for the long-defunct Dauntless label) is very welcome. The tenor saxophonist's orchestra is actually only a septet, but it's a potent group who puts out a big sound. They include trumpeter Willie Thomas, guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist Henry Grimes, drummer Charlie Persip, percussionist Jose Soares, and pianist Steve Kuhn, with the leader's now famous younger brother, Kenny Barron, subbing for Kuhn on the opening track, "Something's Coming." Barron's arrangements are brief (all under four minutes each), but very enjoyable, with snappy takes of "Cool" and "America" as well as a brief "Maria," featuring Thomas and Barron swapping solos, and wrapping with an unusually upbeat treatment of the normally low-key ballad "Somewhere." This 1963 session was finally made available once again by Fresh Sound in 2002.

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