KENNY BARRON, Jazz at the Sheraton, Sheraton City Center, March 24.
The Jazz at the Sheraton took on an international flavor Monday night, as jazz pianist Kenny Barron brought "Canta Brasil" to Salt Lake City.
Joined by flutist Anne Drummond and Trio de Paz (drummer Duduka DaFonseca, guitarist Romero Lebammbo and bassist Nilson Matta), the fivesome cooked up quite an evening of hot Brazilian jazz.
As one might expect, most of the selections came from Barron's recent "Canta Brasil" CD, and those that didn't were still heavily influenced by Brazilian styles.
The good news is that the Trio de Paz was at its best when concentrating on its uniquely Brazilian musical idioms.
That was true whether it was the drummer playing Latin rhythm on the rims or the amplified acoustic guitar stealing the stage in "Bachiao."
The bad news is that sometimes the group had trouble with balance.
For example, the drummer tended to play over the other musicians — especially the piano when it had a solo.
And there were a few times that the bass volume was disproportionately loud.
Drummond, however, was always a great addition whenever she played.
An incredibly talented young player, Drummond's flute traversed a wide range of colors and textures, always interesting. . . .
. . . And always hot.
Overall, the mix of musicians was a good move on Barron's part. One of Barron's strengths as a musician is his ability to "save the best stuff" for just the right moments.
Many of the charts started on the mellow side, sailing along through the soothing, subtle Brazilian rhythms.
But then things would start to heat up, and what were previously just competent musicians would transform into captivating players.
Barron seemed to give the group a sense of direction through the music, and the Trio De Paz gave the group its authentic Brazilian flavor. (Barron's solos tended to reflect a much broader jazz background than strictly pure Brazilian style.)
Drummond was the unifying thread that you could always count on to be really good.
The only drawback to the "save-the-best-stuff" method is that sometimes, in holding back, the chart lost some of its energy.
Although the group was pretty good at channeling the musical energy into quieter styles, it would have been even better to feel that it was as committed to the quiet moments as the more intense ones.
Of course, the irony is that that very fact served to make the more intense moments just that much better.