Oct 14, 2022
A pivotal member of New York's Jazz scene for 40 years, pianist Bruce Barth's inspired vision and generous accompaniment has always led to rich musical collaborations, none more so than with his working trio of many years with bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Montez Coleman. Their collective voice found its perfect setting, which makes the release of Dedication a profound and emotion-filled moment, as Montez passed away 5 months after the recording session at the age of 48. Celebrating the joy and camaraderie Montez brought to their work, the thread of relationships, inspiration, guidance and gratefulness that imbued the recording revealed itself, leading Barth to present the music as a display of mindfulness of those gifts. Dedication is for the ones who give, and is filled with life, dance and above all, swing.
Beyond paying tribute to Montez, Bruce has written songs that are dedicated to other figures who have touched him in one way of another, including Tommy Flanagan, McCoy Tyner and George Floyd. While moving, it is never elegiac – there is a deep feeling of hope in Barth’s playing here, and heaven knows we need more of that these days.
Bruce has performed on over 125 recordings and movie soundtracks, including fifteen as a leader. He is equally at home playing solo piano leading an all-star septet and composing for a variety of ensembles. Within a year of moving to Brooklyn in 1988, Barth toured Japan with Nat Adderley. He started working with Vincent Herring and Stanley Turrentine, and joined Terence Blanchard's quintet in 1990. During the next four years, he toured extensively with Blanchard, recorded six CD's and several movie soundtracks, and played onscreen in Spike Lee's film, Malcolm X.
Bruce has had extended collaborations with Terell Stafford, Steve Wilson, Luciana Souza, Steve Nelson, and Tony Bennett. He has performed with James Moody, Phil Woods, Freddie Hubbard, Tom Harrell, Branford Marsalis, Art Farmer, and the Mingus Big Band. Finally, Bruce is a dedicated teacher, currently on the faculties of Temple University and Columbia University.
Podcast 938 is my conversation with Bruce Barth, as we talk about the new album, the loss of Montez Coleman, and his future projects. Musical selections from Dedication include "Courage," dedicated to front line workers who braved the pandemic, and "Memoriam," dedicated to Geore Floyd and those who fight for racial equity.