Gifted mainstream-jazz pianist Kenny Barron does sonic intimacy well on his sixth Verve solo disc, "Spirit Song," as demonstrated by a lively tug-of-war with tenor saxophonist David Sanchez on McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance," and a leap-frogging duet with guitarist Russell Malone on the uptempo "And Then Again." Textures and rhythms vary regularly, too, with Regina Carter's violin showcased on "Um Beijo," Tom Henderson's muted trumpet at the center of Billy Strayhorn's "Passion Flower," and "Sonja Braga," a bossa nova named (if misspelled) for the Brazilian actress.
The title track drops a playful bebop line over a Latin-rooted rhythm, while Barron's bluesy piano intro cues a series of musical queries by the horn men on "The Question Is." Bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Billy Hart -- a dream rhythm section -- provide a pulsing beat for "Cook's Bay." It's an appealingly programmed set of tastefully delivered jazz that errs only in its overall restraint.
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