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Kenny Werner: Effortless Mastery In Motion

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In the early moments of Effortless Mastery: The Four Steps, pianist Kenny Werner notes that he never aspired to be a guru; nevertheless, he's viewed as one by a significant number of musicians. If Werner had never put a single word on paper or shared a single thought about the art of playing, practicing, and learning, he'd still be recognized as a major musical figure. Over the course of the past three-plus decades, he's done everything from solo dates to grand-scale work with orchestras, and he's played with everybody from saxophonist Joe Lovano to harmonica ace Toots ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Werner: Me, Myself and I

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Pianist Kenny Werner, though comparatively unsung, has been appreciated by many since forming a trio in 1981. He is also known for his series of stellar duos with harmonica virtuoso Toots Thieleman. Additionally, he has done yeoman duty with guitarist John Scofield, bassist Dave Holland and saxophonist Joe Lovano, all the while--for more than 20 years--working as arranger and accompanist for singer Betty Buckley.Me, Myself and Iwas recorded solo in Montreal, Canada at the small Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill club, in June, 2012, during the city's renowned jazz festival. Of this engagement, Werner says that the “ideas ...

NEW YORK BEAT

Symphonic Jazz: Kenny Werner and The Brussels Jazz Orchestra at The Blue Note

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Continuing in the tradition of Thad Jones, Bob Brookmeyer)) and {{Jim McNeely, pianist/composer Kenny Werner has recently employed a leading European orchestra to perform his compositions. The resulting serendipitous marriage between Werner and The Brussels Jazz Orchestra (featured on the Academy Award-winning soundtrack to the 2011 movie, The Artist) produced an evening of intriguing music on April 1, 2012, at the Blue Note. The emergence of excellent jazz orchestras on the continent made international news in 1978 when Thad Jones incorporated some of his Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra charts into the repertoire of the Danish Radio Big ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Werner with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra: Institute of Higher Learning

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Since coming out the other side of a deep personal tragedy, Kenny Werner has resumed his career with a vengeance. First there was No Beginning, No End (Half Note, 2010), which dealt with the tragic loss of his daughter, Katheryn , in a 2006 car accident, as the pianist and wife, Lorraine, found the way from anger and grief to acceptance and hope through spiritual guidance and music. The smaller-scoped but potent Balloons (Half Note, 2011) came a mere six months later, from a 2010 live performance with his regular touring band. Now, just another half-year on, Werner returns with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Werner: Balloons

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Times sure have been tough for pianist Kenny Werner, and yet, he seems to be turning tragedy into triumph, mining the depths of emotion caused by the accidental death of his daughter, Katheryn, in 2006. While he's been playing in the years since, he was noticeably quiet on the recording front until No Beginning, No End (Half Note), released just a short six months ago, in October, 2010. A sweeping, career-defining recording that earned the pianist/composer a Guggenheim Fellowship Award, it dealt with the heart-wrenching process of grief, redemption and hope, its raw catharsis engendering Werner's most ambitious recording to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Werner: No Beginning No End

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Few tragedies strike as hard as that of a child's death preceding that of its parents, something that pianist Kenny Werner and his wife, Lorraine, know far too well. When their daughter, Katheryn, was killed in a 2006 car accident, it sent the couple into a downward spiral from which they were only capable of returning due to the profound strength of their relationship, and the enlightened teachings that, as Werner describes in the almost-too-painful-to-read liner notes to No Beginning No End, “offer us alternative ways to view our lives." The music of No Beginning No End was originally commissioned ...

INTERVIEWS

Kenny Werner: New, Transcendent Sounds

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Inspiration behind art is a curious thing. It takes many forms, from personal to universal perspectives. Many times it's unexpected. It is intertwined with one's life and the vicissitudes therein. As Charlie Parker famously said, “If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn."For pianist/composer/arranger Kenny Werner, music has evolved, over time, into a direct expression of his being, less about a series of notes on paper.“For me, music is not the message, it's the messenger," he says. “If you don't have something to express with the music, if your expression is 'Here, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Werner / Jens Sondergaard: A Time For Love

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After many years of knowing each other, Danish saxophonist Jens Søndergaard and pianist Kenny Werner decided that it was the right time to translate years of friendship into music. The result is the enchanting A Time For Love, which digs deep into a program of classic ballads.

Songs like Jimmy Van Heusen's “But Beautiful" and Ann Ronell's “Willow Weep For Me" have entered the general consciousness, and the challenge to every ballad player is to make them speak with new relevance; the drama of the songs has to be rediscovered. To Werner and Søndergaard, the solution is simple: they play ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Werner: With a Song in My Heart

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Kenny Werner has long been active as a jazz pianist/bandleader, composer and jazz educator, having recorded around two dozen albums as a leader and many more as a sideman. He has performed with quite a few jazz greats, including Charles Mingus, Bob Brookmeyer, Lee Konitz and Toots Thielemans. He's also a sought after pianist by vocalists, having long worked with Broadway star Betty Buckley and jointly leading the Delirium Blue Project with Roseanna Vitro. This trio date pairs the pianist with bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and drummer Ari Hoenig, two top musicians of their generation. Werner incorporates the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Russ Nolan and the Kenny Werner Trio: With You in Mind

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Two Colors (Rhinoceruss, 2004), the first release from saxophonist Russ Nolan as a leader, impressed by virtue of an exquisite partnership with pianist Sam Barsh and the leader's convincing command of both tenor and soprano saxophones. The saxophonist's sophomore effort, With You in Mind, reprises his traditional approach in the context of pianist Kenny Werner's superb piano trio. Nolan's affinity for pianists is again readily apparent on a varied musical program that includes paeans to Trane, Monk and drummer Billy Kilson. Not your run-of-the-mill tenor player who leans on speed or a big round tone to impress, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Russ Nolan and the Kenny Werner Trio: With You in Mind

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With You in Mind is saxophonist Russ Nolan's sophomore effort as a leader, and benefits from the inclusion of pianist Kenny Werner's longstanding trio featuring drummer Ari Hoenig and bassist Johannes Weidenmueller, which simultaneously supports and challenges Nolan on a set of mostly his own compositions.

“Stand Clear of the Closing Doors" is a highlight, putting a clever touch on the theme of bustling city life that has long been a favorite of jazz musicians. Nolan and company evoke the frenetic pace of a subway ride, with metal-scraped cymbals and dissonant piano runs giving way to ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Ottawa Jazz Festival Day 6: June 26, 2007

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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11

At its half-way point, the 2007 TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival's sixth day presented a series of concerts that demonstrated just how broad repertory jazz can be. While too many artists retread overly played material and bring nothing new to the table, the performances at the 5:00 PM Connoisseur Series, 8:30 PM Concert Under the Stars events, and 10:30 PM Studio series demonstrated that, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Werner: Lawn Chair Society

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Kenny Werner is best-known as an acoustic pianist, but he's no stranger to other keyboards. Still, Lawn Chair Society's greater emphasis on electronics will no doubt come as a surprise to those who know him through solo piano outings like Live at Maybeck Recital Hall (Concord, 1994) or the more recent post-bop of Democracy: Live at the Blue Note (Half Note, 2006). With its combination of strong group interplay, electronica textures and occasional post-Miles musings, Lawn Chair Society simply confirms that Werner is an artist for whom the words convention and predictability have no meaning. Which really ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kenny Werner: Lawn Chair Society

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Keyboardist Kenny Werner's ambitious work Lawn Chair Society is an amalgam of straight-ahead jazz, R&B and funk, skillfully blending the avant-garde, the accessible and the modernistic. The rush-hour scatting of Dave Douglas' cornet and Chris Potter's bass clarinet on “Lo's Garden and the postmodern “New Amsterdam, featuring Potter's gritty tenor, set the CD's tone. The tight horn arrangements and funk pedigree should be no surprise considering that producer Lenny Picket was a mainstay in the vaunted horn section of Tower of Power. “The 13th Day, a measured, thoughtful tune, features some of Werner's best playing. “burble_burble_splerk and ...



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