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SOPAC presents Giants of Jazz honoring Kenny Barron

originally published: 11/20/2023

SOPAC presents Giants of Jazz honoring Kenny Barron

Photo © Philippe Lévy-Stab

(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) presents Giants of Jazz honoring Kenny Barron on Saturday, November 25, 2023. Giants of Jazz has become a legendary event in South Orange, featuring the convergence of countless Jazz greats in an unforgettable evening of music. Curated by Jazz legend and South Orange resident John Lee, this year SOPAC celebrates a titan of Jazz piano who The Los Angeles Times lauds as "one of the top Jazz pianists in the world," Kenny Barron! Showtime is 8:00pm.

The artist lineup for the night includes Johnathan Blake, Bill Charlap, Cyrus Chestnut, Paquito D’Rivera, Steve Davis, Dezron Douglas, Essiet Okon Essiet, Roberta Gambarini, Mark Gross, Freddie Hendrix, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Jeb Patton, Renee Rosnes, Jon Regen, Rufus Reid, Evan Sherman, Terell Stafford, Erena Terakubo, Diego Urcola, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Lenny White, and David Wong.

A limited amount of tickets are available for purchase online, starting at $55. South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is located at One SOPAC Way in South Orange, New Jersey.

Born in Philadelphia, Kenny Barron’s first professional piano gig was with Mel Melvin’s Orchestra.  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 Gillespie’s band that Barron developed an appreciation for Latin and Caribbean rhythms. After five years with Gillespie, Barron played with Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, and Buddy Rich.

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In 1973, Barron joined the faculty at Rutgers University as a 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, Barron 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.

Barron is a nine-time Grammy nominee!  His first nomination was in 1992 for “People Time” an outstanding duet with Stan Getz.  This was followed by the Brazilian influenced “Sambao” and most recently for “Freefall” in 2002.  His other Grammy nominations were double nominations for Best Album and Best Solo Performance for “Spirit Song;” “Night and the City” (a duet recording with Charlie Haden); and “Wanton Spirit,” a trio recording with Roy Haynes and Haden.

Jazz Weekly declares that Barron is “the most lyrical piano player of our time!”  Whether he is playing solo, trio, or quintet, Barron is recognized the world over as a master of performance composition.

South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is located at One SOPAC Way in South Orange, New Jersey. SOPAC offers audiences exhilarating and diverse arts entertainment in its intimate venue, serving as the cultural heartbeat of the greater South Orange/Maplewood region and contributing to the economic and social vibrancy of its highly diverse community.

SOPAC is an accessible cultural destination that presents world-class artists in an intimate and welcoming environment. The Jennifer & Tony Leitner Performance Hall is a 439-seat mainstage theatre with superb acoustics, sight lines and seating. Audiences remark that performances in this space are like having their favorite artists right in their own living room. Artists acknowledge that the atmosphere encourages conversations with audiences. The Loft at SOPAC is a 2,185 square-foot multi-purpose space used for performances, rehearsals, classes and special events.

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