John Zorn, Cindy Blackman, Dhafer Youssef, Jon Hassell, The Necks, Kenny Werner
The Kenny Werner Trio
February 11, 2009
The Brooklyn pianist Kenny Werner is known as an individualist composer, pushing jazz further onwards, but he's also steeped in the tradition of bebop and even pre-bop. His physical stance and aural aspect is of the Art Tatum variety, which is a pretty impressive antecedent to drop. There's a total confidence in the way he ejects an impatient keyboard babble from his mind, immediately picked out by his nimble fingers. There's an inevitability to the logic of his outpourings, but Werner doesn't dawdle around the areas of touch-predictability, always remembering the blues, and retaining a certain rustic charm from the old stride days. His beret-topped head is tossed backwards in a trance of ecstasy, and his rapport with drummer Ari Hoenig recalls the previous week's empathy between Joey Calderazzo and Jeff "Tain" Watts at this very club. Hoenig is always watching Werner, crouched as if to pounce, picking up on his leader's every phrase and underlining, answering or just plain hitting it back to source. Once more, the bass is caught in the middle, with Johannes Weidenmueller taking a more responsible position. Guitarist Gilad Hekselman guests on a few numbers, but his gentle showers tend to calm the proceedings before the set's final bracing dash. Often jazz piano can too easily slide into cocktail lounge tics, but Werner makes every note bite, matching Hoenig with each extroverted embellishment and every heightening of the fun factor.