Saturday, November 21, 2015


Regina Carter and Kenny Barron
Duo concerts are a staple of the Paradise Jazz Series. Over the years, there have been some doozies by the likes of John and Gerald Clayton, Bill Charlap and Rene Rosnes, and Dave Holland and Kenny Barron. Friday evening at Orchestra Hall in Detroit violinist Regina Carter and pianist Kenny Barron put on the best  duo performance in recent memory. 

For two hours, Carter and Barron played the repertoire from their album “Freefall” released on Verve Records in 2001. As the story goes, collaborating was Barron’s idea. In the early 90’s he pitched the project to Carter. She believed Barron was pulling her leg,  

At the time, Carter was in the throes of building her solo career. She only had a self-titled album on the market. Barron, on the other hand, was a well-known jazz pianist with a legend’s resume, having had stints with Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Haynes, and Yusef Lateef. And Barron led the immensely popular group SphereCarter ended up playing in two of Barron’s bands before they in 2001 made “Freefall,” which was a hit and received a Grammy nomination, 

Friday night was the first time in years Carter and Barron revisited music from “Freefall”. Witnessing them perform flawlessly for two hours made it hard to believe they only team up occasionally. On each song, their musical psyches were in sync, and for two hours the audience experienced a guided tour of the depths of Carter's and Barron's virtuosity. 

It's worth noting that Barron has the ten most elegant fingers in jazz. His elegance was in full bloom soloing on his original compositions "A Flower” and “What If”. Barron is also a masterful accompanist. The entire concert he made sure Carter was the focal point. 

Carter's soloing on “Soft as in a Morning Sunrise,” and “Misterioso” is why a segment of the near capacity audience probably had to soak their sore hands in Epson salt at home because of incessant clapping. Every improvisational trick Carter pulled from her sleeve drove the audience nuts. Carter broke the bank soloing on “Hush Now Don’t Explain,” playing it so beautifully and tenderly it appeared her violin was crying.
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