The Rapidian

St. Cecilia Music Center brings top Jazz pianist, Grammy Award nominee Kenny Barron to Grand Rapids

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St. Cecilia Music Center will feature one of the top jazz pianists in the world, Kenny Barron and his quintet on November 1, 2018, to celebrate their 135th anniversary season. The Kenny Barron Quintet will perform the second of four Jazz Series concerts in the 2018/2019 season.
Kenny Barron - Piano Jazz Master

Kenny Barron - Piano Jazz Master /Kenny Barron

Underwriting support from:

Jazz Series Concerts at St. Cecilia Music Center

Jazz Series Single tickets 

St. Cecilia Music Center

Call 616-459-2224 or visit the box office at 24 Ransom Ave. NE.

Tickets can also be purchased online at


Kenny Barron Quintet – November 1, 2018

A section $45

B section $40

Joey DeFrancesco – February 7, 2019

A section $40 

B section $35

Benny Green Trio & Veronica Swift – March 7, 2019

A section $45 

B section $40

St. Cecilia Music Center (SCMC) in Grand Rapids will feature one of the top jazz pianists in the world, Kenny Barron and his quintet on November 1, 2018, to celebrate their 135th anniversary season. The Kenny Barron Quintet will perform the second of four Jazz Series concerts in the 2018/2019 celebration season. 

Honored by The National Endowment for the Arts as a 2010 Jazz Master, Kenny Barron has earned eleven GRAMMY™ nods beginning in 1992 for Best Jazz Album with People Timean outstanding duet with Stan Getz, and most recently in 2017 for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. The Los Angeles Timeshas called Kenny Barron "one of the top jazz pianists in the world” and he was named Best Pianist in 2017 by the Jazz Journalists Association for a record seven times. 

This concert tour called Concentric Circles introduces his new quintet with three strong emerging players, tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens, trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, drummer Johnathan Blake and a long-term Barron associate bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa. Their style is sleek, modern mainstream jazz, a combination of post-bop, modal and Latin elements, of which Barron is among today’s reigning masters. The Kenny Barron Quintet released a new album called Concentric Circles in summer 2018 on the Blue Note label.

SCMC Executive Director Cathy Holbrook says, “As our second Jazz series concert this year, Kenny Barron’s new quintet and their mastery on stage will set jazz lovers on fire. Following Arturo Sandoval who appeared at SCMC in October to a sold-out audience, the Kenny Barron Quintet will be another amazing night of jazz.  Barron’s new Quintet highlights sleek, modern mainstream jazz led by Barron’s precision and strong artistic improvisation skills that he’s so well known for.

Concert tickets for the Kenny Barron Quintet are $40 and $45 and can be purchased by calling St. Cecilia Music Center at 616-459-2224 or visiting the box office at 24 Ransom Ave. NE. Tickets can also be purchased online at  A pre-concert reception with wine and hors d'oeuvresis available by reservation for $15 and begins at 6:30 pm. A post-concert party with dessert, coffee and wine is open to all ticket-holders to meet the artists and gain autographs and CD purchases. 

More Jazz Series Concerts at SCMC during the 2018/2019 135th anniversary season include:

  • Multi-talented Jazz Musician Joey DeFranceso appearing with his quartet “The People” on February 7, 2018. Applauded as “one of the best B-3 players on the planet” by Jazz Times, DeFranceso will be releasing his new album on Mack Avenue Records - Project Freedom. The new album features him on the Hammond B-3, along with contributions on keyboards, trumpet and as a vocalist. Accompanying DeFrancesco will be drummer Jason Brown, guitarist Dan Wilson and saxophonist Troy Roberts—collectively billed as “the People.” 
  • Young rising jazz singer Veronica Swift and the Benny Green Trio performing on March 7, 2019. Veronica Swift will launch her newest album for release in 2018 and the album will feature the great pianist Benny Green and his trio. At age 23, Veronica Swift is now being recognized around the country as one of the top young jazz singers on the scene. Benny Green, a veteran of the jazz world combines a mastery of keyboard technique with decades of real world experience playing with no one less than the most celebrated artists of the last half century. 

More About Kenny Barron 

Philadelphia is the birthplace of many great musicians, including one of the undisputed masters of the jazz piano: Kenny Barron. Kenny was born in 1943 and while a teenager, started playing professionally with Mel Melvin’s orchestra. This local band also featured Barron’s brother Bill, the late tenor saxophonist.

While still in high school. Kenny worked with drummer Philly Joe Jones and at age 19, he moved to New York City and freelanced with Roy Haynes, Lee Morgan and James Moody, after the tenor saxophonist heard him play at the Five Spot. Upon Moody’s recommendation Dizzy Gillespie hired Barron in 1962 without even hearing him play a note. It was in Dizzy’s band where Kenny developed an appreciation for Latin and Caribbean rhythms. After five years with Dizzy, Barron played with Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, and Buddy Rich. The early seventies found Kenny working with Yusef Lateef who Kenny credits as a key influence in his art for improvisation. Encouraged by Lateef, to pursue a college education, Barron balanced touring with studies and earned his B.A. in Music from Empire State College. By 1973, Kenny joined the faculty at Rutgers University as professor of music. He held this tenure until 2000, mentoring many of today’s young talents including David Sanchez, Terence Blanchard and Regina Bell. In 1974 Kenny recorded his first album as a leader for the Muse label, entitled “Sunset to Dawn.” This was to be the first in over 40 recordings (and still counting!) as a leader.

Following stints with Ron Carter in the late seventies Kenny formed a trio with Buster Williams and Ben Riley which also worked alongside Eddie Lockjaw” Davis, Eddie Harris, Sonny Stitt and Harry “Sweets” Edison. Throughout the 80’s Barron collaborated with the great tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, touring with his quartet and recording several legendary albums including “Anniversary”, “Serenity” and the Grammy nominated “People Time”. Also during the 80’s, he co-founded the quartet “Sphere,” along with Buster Williams, Ben Riley and Charlie Rouse. This band focused on the music of Thelonious Monk and original compositions inspired by him. Sphere recorded several outstanding projects for the Polygram label, among them “Four for All” and “Bird Songs.” After the death of Charlie Rouse, the band took a 15-year hiatus and reunited, replacing Rouse with alto saxophonist Gary Bartz. This reunion made its debut recording for Verve Records in 1998.

Kenny Barron’s own recordings for Verve have earned him nine Grammy nominations beginning in 1992 with “People Time” an outstanding duet with Stan Getz followed by the Brazilian influenced “Sambao and most recently for “Freefall” in 2002. Other Grammy nominations went to “Spirit Song”, “Night and the City” (a duet recording with Charlie Haden) and “Wanton Spirit” a trio recording with Roy Haynes and Haden. It is important to note that these three recordings each received double-Grammy nominations (for album and solo performance.) His CD, “Canta Brasil” (Universal France) linked Barron with Trio de Paz in a fest of original Brazilian jazz, and was named Critics Choice Top Ten CDs of 2003 by JazzIz Magazine. His 2004 release, Images (Universal France) was inspired by a suite originally commissioned by The Wharton Center at Michigan State University and features multi-Grammy nominated vibraphonist Stefon Harris. The long-awaited trio sequel featuring Ray Drummond and Ben Riley, The Perfect Set, Live at Bradley’s, Part Two (Universal France/Sunnyside) was released October 2005.

In Spring 2008, Mr. Barron released The Traveler (Universal France), an intoxicating mix of favorite Barron tunes set to lyrics and newly penned compositions. For his first vocal based recording, Barron invited Grady Tate (who sheds his drumsticks for this special appearance), Tony award winner Ann Hampton Calloway and the young phenom Gretchen Parlato, winner of the Thelonious Monk International Competition for Jazz. 

After a successful musical meeting of the minds with bassist Dave Holland, the two masters decided to collaborate on a duet project to be released on Impulse/Universal records in 2014 followed by a tour.

Barron’s latest release in summer 2018, Concentric Circles, includes his new quintet with tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens, trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, drummer Johnathan Blake and a long-term associate bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa.

Barron consistently wins the jazz critics and readers polls, including Downbeat, Jazz Times and Jazziz magazines. The famed Spanish ceramist Lladro honored Mr. Barron with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from his alma mater SUNY Empire State in 2013 and from Berklee College of Music in 2011. In 2009, he received the Living Legacy Award from Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and was inducted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame and won a MAC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He is a six-time recipient of Best Pianist by the Jazz Journalists Association.

Whether he is playing solo, trio or quintet, Kenny Barron is recognized the world over as a master of performance and composition.

More about Kenny Barron can be found on his website at


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