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Live From New York

John Zorn, Cindy Blackman, Dhafer Youssef, Jon Hassell, The Necks, Kenny Werner

By Published: March 18, 2009
Pianist Chris Abrahams, bassist Lloyd Swanton and drummer Tony Buck have the advantage of not always sounding like they're playing the piano, bass and drums. They often use these instruments as tools to make sounds that have a group existence, part of a united instant-composing process rather than operating as a divisible "piano trio." Abrahams is trinkling with such repetitive density that he sounds like he's fighting through a room clogged up with stacked, surplus pianos. Buck is crinkling and crackling bent metal, making pure chain-mail hiss. Swanton is hitting a riff that has no edges or demarcations, just pure deepness. There comes a point where (maybe after as much as thirty minutes), everything gradually locks, intersects and grinds into a kind of throbbing perfection. Then this moment diminishes, and the piece will, after all or enough has been said, come to a conclusion. Everything is just right...

The Kenny Werner Trio

Jazz Standard

February 11, 2009

The Brooklyn pianist Kenny Werner
Kenny Werner
Kenny Werner
b.1951
piano
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
Joey Calderazzo
Joey Calderazzo
b.1965
piano
and Jeff "Tain" Watts
Jeff
Jeff "Tain" Watts
b.1960
drums
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.


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