Kenny Barron on enja, maybe not as outstanding as his earlier work on Muse, but still well worth the aural excursion. Not a bad line-up either: alongside Kenny Barron on piano there's John Stubblefield on tenor sax [NB what's cduniverse on about, he's not from UK shurely?], Wallace Roney on trumpet, Cecil McBee on bass, and Victor Lewis drums. 'Nuff said.
Pianist Kenny Barron leads a quintessential post-bop quintet on 1986's WHAT IF? with help from the contemporary jazz star trumpeter Wallace Roney, and the British tenor saxophonist John Stubblefield. Except for Thelonious Monk's "Trinkle, Tinkle," these compositions are all Barron originals, and what is most striking is how much these tracks — "Phantoms" and "Voyage" especially — sound like a typical Herbie Hancock or Hank Mobley Blue Note session of the late-'50s and early-'60s, just as the post-bop idiom was being defined. The prodigious pianist displays his Bud Powell-like virtuosity on the aptly titled "Dexterity," slowing down the tempo just enough for the intricate ballad "Close To You Alone." Veteran bassist Cecil McBee and the versatile drummer Victor Lewis provide supple support throughout the set.
Although Kenny Barron's always a heck of a great musician on his own or in a piano trio, we're especially partial to his work in groups with horn players -- and this album is a great example of that preference! Kenny first came to fame working with Dizzy Gillespie in the 60s, and since that point, he's always had a tremendous ear for the right tones and shadings from horns needed to augment his own soulful vision on the keys -- a way of setting up the other players in the group to build on the well-crafted Barron lines, and take them even further into the stratosphere. This set follows that format, and draws great energy from Wallace Roney on trumpet and John Stubblefield on tenor -- both at their younger best, and working alongside Kenny's piano with Cecil McBee on bass and Victor Lewis on drums. The lineup sparkles most on the 4 longer Barron numbers on the album -- "Phantoms", "What If", "Voyage", and "Lullabye" -- all of which take us back to the brilliance of Kenny's best Muse albums of the 70s. Other tracks feature smaller, more piano-centrist groupings -- on tracks that include "Dexterity", "Close To You Alone", and "Trinkle Trinkle".