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Kenny Werner: Lawn Chair Society (2007)

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Kenny Werner: Lawn Chair Society How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

With this upbeat program of original material, pianist Kenny Werner takes his quintet through a swinging confrontation that combines modern innovation with classical training. His music is timeless. Working with an all-star lineup on Lawn Chair Society that features trumpeter Dave Douglas, saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade, he's at the top of his game.

Werner's story is familiar. He studied hard to learn to play piano as well as he does—but with all that hard work, however, came a reluctant disposition. He felt that all his "hard work and no play had kept him from becoming completely free. Perfect piano performances had held little allure for him, since one note followed another in phrase after phrase; however, something about the feel of it all bothered him. After working with Madame Chaloff in Boston and Juao Assis Brasil in Brazil, he began to relax and enjoy what was happening, lighten up somewhat, and develop into the pianist that he wants to be.

That was a long time ago.

Werner has continued to grow at the piano for over thirty years. He is a spiritual person. As a composer, his music flows with a natural lyricism that harbors a deep-down blues sensibility. From this session, "Uncovered Heart releases that kind of emotion freely, and Werner's musical partners feel it as well as he does.

Other selections capture new and interesting ideas and release them at will. Werner's use of a computer to bring contrasting rhythms to play on several pieces provides a unique thrill. Throughout the session, a tried and true mainstream fiber holds Werner's feet to the jazz fire of our forefathers. As far out as he leans from time to time, we always know that his heart is at the center. Lawn Chair Society sits atop this year's best-of list for its innovation, for its ties with tradition, and for the quintet's superb musicianship.

Track Listing: Los Garden; New Amsterdam; The 13th Day; Burble_Burble_Splerk; Uncovered Heart; Inaugural Balls; West_Coast_Variant; Lawn Chairs (and Other Foreign Policy); Loss; Kothbiro.

Personnel: Kenny Werner: piano, keyboards, computer; Dave Douglas: trumpet, cornet; Chris Potter, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Scott Colley: bass; Brian Blade: drums; Lenny Pickett, wooden flute.

Record Label: Blue Note Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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