Barron rules as a pianist’s pianist

Every profession has people like Kenny Barron. You know the type: magnificent at their job but quiet, unassuming, deferential to a fault — almost to the point of being taken for granted. But when you actually take stock of their work, you realize that they do it better than just about anyone else.

That sums up Barron, who’s been called a pianist’s pianist by his peers in jazz. He’s not interested in drawing attention to himself, and as a result, the more extroverted types grab the spotlight. But his piano playing speaks for itself, and it’s just too good to be ignored.

Barron, who turns 62 on Thursday, doesn’t make it to the Bay Area often, but he’ll be here next weekend to headline the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, now in its seventh year in Sonoma County. He’ll be playing solo and leading a trio with Victor Lewis on drums and Kiyoshi Kitagawa on bass. Plus, as a special treat, the pianist will pair with violin phenom Regina Carter.

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