Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

126

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

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
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 Institute of Higher Learning, a vibrant big band session that teams the veteran pianist with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra, for a set of four originals and one cover.

"House of the Rising Sun"—the traditional folk tune made so famous by The Animals in 1964 that it became de rigueur learning for budding guitarists—was given a jazzier veneer on John Scofield's This Meets That (EmArcy, 2010). But while the guitarist made it his own, with modernistic re-harmonization and a guest appearance by fellow six-stringer Bill Frisell, it remained relatively faithful. Much as SFJAZZ Collective has been twisting and turning the music of a pop icon—both on the road and on Live in New York Season 8: Music of Stevie Wonder (SFJAZZ, 2011)—so, too, does Werner here, on his sweeping 10-minute arrangement that takes over two minutes to get to the familiar melody, and even then, over some serious re-harms. Cascading horns lead to a fiery duo between incendiary drummer Martijn Vink and baritone saxophonist Bo Van der Werf, building to a thrilling mid-set climax.

But as strong an arrangement as "Rising Sun" is, it's Werner's writing that rightfully dominates the set, including the three-part, 30-minute "Cantabile Suite" that makes clear, from the ambling mid-tempo swing of the "First Movement," that this is a different kind of large ensemble record than the broader array of horns, reeds and woodwinds of No Beginning. Here it's a more conventional big band all the way—five reed/woodwind players, four trumpets and four trombones—bolstered by a four-piece rhythm section, Werner included. But as much as Werner aligns himself to a tradition, he goes against type from the very start, with guitarist Peter Hertmans' visceral, overdriven lines bringing a grittier vibe to the set's first solo, only to peak as Werner takes over, impressionistic motifs peppered with left-hand punctuations.

Like saxophonist Chris Potter's recent Transatlantic (Red Dot, 2011), this set suggests that the full extent of world class players simply can't be measured, as Werner democratically makes Institute of Higher Learning as much a feature for the Brussels Jazz Orchestra as it is the pianist's own writing and performing. Whether it's the balladic "Second Movement," with its lyrical spot for trumpeter Pierre Drevet, or the episodic title track, where the pianist is at his modal best, Institute of Higher Learning is a record that, combined with the other two discs Werner has released this past year, makes clear, in no uncertain terms, that Werner's back...and back, indeed, with a vengeance.

Track Listing: Cantabile, First Movement; Cantabile, Second Movement; Cantabile, Third Movement; Second Love Song; The House of the Rising Sun; Compensation; Institute of Higher Learning.

Personnel: Kenny Werner: piano; Peter Hertmans: guitar; Jos Machtel: double bass; Martijn Vink: drums; Frank Vaganee: artistic director, lead alto and soprano saxphones; Dieter Limbourg: alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, flute; Kurt Van Herck: tenor saxophone, flute; Bart Defoort: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Bo Van der Werf: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Serge Plume: lead trumpet, flugelhorn; Nico Schepers: trumpet, flugelhorn; Pierre Drevet: trumpet, flugelhorn; Joeroen Van Malderen: trumpet, flugelhorn; Marc Godfried: lead trombone; Lode Mertens: trombone; Ben Fleerakkers: trombone; Laurent Hendrick: bass trombone.

Title: Institute Of Higher Learning | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Half Note Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Fifth Movement

Fifth Movement

Kenny Werner
The Space

The God of Time

The God of Time

Kenny Werner
No Beginning No End

Radio
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Film Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
New York Beat
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
The Space

The Space

Pirouet Records
2018

buy
Poesia

Poesia

Pirouet Records
2015

buy
The Melody

The Melody

Pirouet Records
2015

buy
Me, Myself and I

Me, Myself and I

Justin Time Records
2012

buy
Institute Of Higher Learning

Institute Of Higher...

Half Note Records
2011

buy
Balloons

Balloons

Half Note Records
2011

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Mar1Fri
Kenny Werner
Moss Theater
Santa Monica, CA

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read In Between the Tumbling a Stillness Album Reviews
In Between the Tumbling a Stillness
By Karl Ackermann
February 20, 2019
Read Gary Album Reviews
Gary
By Dan McClenaghan
February 20, 2019
Read Perception Album Reviews
Perception
By Paul Rauch
February 20, 2019
Read I Love the Rhythm in a Riff Album Reviews
I Love the Rhythm in a Riff
By Mackenzie Horne
February 20, 2019
Read Head First Album Reviews
Head First
By Roger Farbey
February 20, 2019
Read New American Songbooks, Volume 2 Album Reviews
New American Songbooks, Volume 2
By Karl Ackermann
February 19, 2019
Read Live At JazzCase Album Reviews
Live At JazzCase
By Troy Dostert
February 19, 2019