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Renowned pianist to play in Topeka

By The Mercury

TOPEKA—Topeka Jazz Workshop, Inc.’s 43rd concert season will end Sunday with a blast with a performance by the Kenny Barron Trio. 

Pianist Barron is the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters Award in 2010.  This is considered to be the United States’ top honor in jazz.

The other members of his Trio are Johnathon Blake on drums and Kiyoshi Kitigawa on bass.

The concert will be at Topeka’s Ramada Convention Center from 3 to 5 p.m.  Admission is by season membership only, but non-members may attend by purchasing a late season membership at the door for $50 per adult or $25 per student under 21. 

Barron was born in Philadelphia in 1943 and has had a long career in jazz, including stints with Philly Joe Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddy Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, Buddy Rich, Chet Baker, Ron Carter and Stan Getz. 

He won many awards on his path to the Jazz Masters Award.  He is a composer and arranger as well as a bandleader and , as professor of music at Rutgers University, has helped many students get their starts in the jazz world. 

Not only has he become a mentor to many students, he also has found himself learning from them. 

“I’ve been around the jazz scene a long time,” he said, “and I’ve had all these experiences. But what’s important to me is to be open and continue to learn, especially from musicians in the younger generation.” 

Barron has been described as the most renowned, most lyrical, and busiest pianist in jazz today.

Blake is a 36-year-old from Philadelphia, also affiliated with Rutgers University, where he graduated in 2007 and began working steadily in the contemporary jazz scene, earning recognition as a first-call jazz drummer. He has played with Russell Malone and has his own group that tours internationally. 

Kitigawa was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1958.  Soon after moving to New York, he started playing with jazz groups, including Tommy Flanagan, Terell Stafford, Jon Faddis and Barron, and he also formed his own group.

CoreFirst Bank & Trust is a special co-sponsor of this concert, which ends 43 seasons of successful and entertaining TJW jazz concerts in Topeka. 

Season memberships are now available for the 44th season starting in August.  See or contact

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