The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is thrilled to announce the 24th annual and 12th SOPAC-presented Giants of Jazz on Saturday, November 25 at 8PM on the Mainstage, honoring the legendary Jazz pianist Kenny Barron. Curated by Grammy Award-winning producer and South Orange resident, John Lee, Giants of Jazz features the convergences of countless Jazz greats in an unforgettable evening of music and celebration.
Born in Philadelphia, Kenny Barron’s, first professional gig was with Mel Melvin’s Orchestra in Philly’s famed New Barber Hall. Dating back to the Golden Age of Jazz, Mel Melvin’s Orchestra nurtured some of the city’s best Jazz musicians, including the Heath Brothers and John Coltrane.
At 19, Barron moved to New York City, where he freelanced with other Jazz legends such as Roy Haynes, Lee Morgan, and James Moody. Upon Moody’s recommendation, renowned trumpeter and composer Dizzy Gillespie hired Barron without ever hearing him play a note.
“If ever there was a true GIANT of Jazz, pianist Kenny Barron is one,” lauds SOPAC Executive Director Stephen Beaudoin. “His incredible legacy of artistry as a richly hued composer and unmatched pianist, performing with some of the world’s foremost creators and interpreters as both a bandleader and side man, is remarkable to consider.”
Barron joins a list of illustrious Jazz musicians named a “Giant of Jazz”, including pianist Harold Mabern (Giant of Jazz ’22), trumpeter Claudio Roditi (Giant of Jazz ’21), bassist Buster Williams (Giant of Jazz ’20), drummer Jimmy Cobb (Giant of Jazz ’19), and more. This nine-time Grammy nominee is heralded by The Los Angeles Times as “one of the top Jazz pianists in the world.”
“Over sixty-plus years as a working musician, Kenny Barron has continued to set a standard for excellence, innovation, and collaboration,” Beaudoin continues.
At SOPAC, Barron will be joined by virtuosic Jazz artists including trombonist Steve Davis; singer Roberta Gambarini; saxophonists Paquito D’Rivera and Mark Gross; drummers Johnathan Blake, Evan Sherman, and Lenny White; trumpeters Freddie Hendrix, Terell Stafford, and Diego Urcola; bassists Dezron Douglas, Essiet Okon Essiet, Rufus Reid (Giant of Jazz ’23), and David Wong; and pianists Bill Charlap, Cyrus Chestnut, Jeb Patton, Renee Rosnes, and Jon Regen.