Though it may be a nonsensical thought, it's tempting to wonder if Kenny Werner has figured out how to clone himself. Lately, it would seem that he's everywhere: if you've opened the pages of DownBeat you've seen his "Zen And The Art Of Jazz" columns staring back at you; if you've headed up to Berklee you've seen him in action, acting as Artistic Director of that institution's Performance Wellness Institute; if you frequent New York's Blue Note or Jazz Standard you might've heard his new quintet or his longstanding trio; and if you've followed the new release schedule, you may have spotted the latest from that trio or trumpeter Randy Brecker's RandyPOP! (Piloo Records And Productions LLC, 2015), an album featuring Werner's playing and his arrangements/derangements of classic pop songs. How he fits it all in is a mystery, but it's clear that a Werner in motion gathers no moss.
Now, in keeping with that idea, comes another release from the omnipresent pianist. Poesia finds Werner working with vocalist Joyce Moreno, building on a musical relationship that extends back over a quarter of a century: Werner appeared on both of Moreno's albums on the Verve imprint, he toured Japan with her in 1991, and he remains her first choice pianist whenever she arrives in New York. Here, these two deliver thirteen intimate duo gems that are as lovely and distinctive as the budding and blooming flower images that adorn the packaging.
Across this album, Werner and Moreno demonstrate that beauty comes in many forms. "Olha Maria" moves with melancholic charm, "Estate" comes across as a form of musical hypnotherapy, "Mad About The Boy" is a daydream and a saloon song rolled into one, and "Pra Dizer Adeus" reduces the whole concept of yearning into a single work. Virtually every one of these performance exists in a similar space in terms of tempo, dynamics, and pacing, but each piece of musical poetry carries a different intention. A number like "Velho Piano," for example, deals with the evolution and unmasking of love over time while a piece like "The Water Is Wide" comes from a different place, speaking in spiritual tones. Both deal with dissimilar topics, but they become kindred spirits in the way that Werner and Moreno address them.
Not a year goes by without the arrival of one or two extraordinarily beautiful piano-and-voice duo albums. For 2015, this is one of them. To say that this music is affecting and enthralling would be a gross understatement.
Second Love Song; E O Amor Outra Vez; Olha Maria; Estate; Mad About The Boy; Velho Piano; Throw It Away; Pra Dizer Adeus; Smile; Choro Bandido; Some Other Time; Novelo; The Water Is Wide.
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