Greg Abate (saxes, flute); Kenny Barron (piano); Dezron Douglas (bass); Johnathan Blake (drums).
I think it was during the journey from Llandudno to Manchester Airport on the day after Greg’s appearance at the North Wales Jazz Festival that that he mentioned that he was thinking of recording an album featuring the tunes of Kenny Barron. I thought that sounded a pretty cool idea. When he said that he also wanted to record it at the famous Rudy Van Gelder studios in New Jersey using Kenny’s trio I thought that was one ambitious project, but when Greg decides to do something it usually gets done.
So in due course, after many setbacks due to lockdown and many days spent arranging the fourteen songs so that the end result was of a suitably high standard, the double CD was released and made a big impact on the US jazz radio charts.
I first heard Kenny Barron on Jimmy Owens’ Atlantic LP You Had Better Listen. He wrote two tunes on this fine album Gichi and Carolina John. Later I heard Barron live when he was part of the Freddie Hubbard/Joe Henderson Quintet at the Antibes Jazz Festival in the south of France. The only other time I saw him live was on a jazz cruise when his band Sphere played to a ship full of jazz fans to great acclaim. Of course he also spent time backing the late tenor icon Stan Getz and he plays frequently around New York at venues such as Smalls and Mezzrow’s.
I decided to play the second CD first as it contained Voyage which I would say is the most played of his many tunes. Greg featured a sax section on the theme by use of overdubs and he has done a great job of scoring the horns. There is another tune on side two that has a very catchy melody and that is Magic Dance. Also I like what Greg does with Innocence and here we have all the horns apart from the flute scored to good effect. This is certainly a departure from Greg’s previous releases but is has lots of energetic solos that are a hallmark of his work. This is music that you have to listen to many times and after repeated plays you will realise that Greg Abate has produced a true modern jazz masterpiece.