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Kenny Werner: The Melody

Dan Bilawsky By

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The Melody lives up to its name, but not through the simple act of melodic dissemination: pianist Kenny Werner and his trio mates don't make their mark by addressing melodies so much as by undressing them, revealing what's beneath these tuneful coverings. All seven songs on the album—four Werner originals, a Broadway classic, and two standards—speak to the intimate art of dialogue, the respect that exists between these three men, and the inherent possibilities that live within a song.

Once polished with the cloth of invention, every piece here, be it a previously-recorded Werner tune, a new(er) original, or a classic, seems new. "Try To Remember," for example, shrugs off any maudlin qualities and nostalgic weight in favor of starry-eyed wonder, eventually revealing a touch of Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas"; Dave Brubeck 's "In Your Own Sweet Way" is playful, quirky, and charming all at once; "Who?" is consistency and movement rolled into one; and "Beauty Secrets" is a wholly engrossing meditation on dark-complexioned allure, existing in the shadows while reflecting slivers of lights.

A flexible concept of the individual's function is central to the sound of this trio, as is the notion that no idea is so powerful as to require unwavering allegiance. This music morphs frequently, as rhythms prance, flow, stutter, and stride in unexpected ways, and each musician has a hand in making that happen. Drummer Ari Hoenig is just as likely to drive the action as he is to trace the melodic contours of a passage, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller is a grounding force and a harmonically astute linchpin, and Werner is a wide-open reservoir of musical knowledge, imparting intelligent thought with his every movement. With a decade-and-a-half of shared experiences and several strong albums already under its belt, it should come as no surprise that this trio sounds as good as it does.

Track Listing: Try To Remember; Who? Balloons; 26-2; Voncify The Emulyans; In Your Own Sweet Way; Beauty Secrets.

Personnel: Kenny Werner: piano; Johannes Weidenmueller: bass; Ari Hoenig: drums.

Title: The Melody | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Pirouet Records

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