Let's ruminate on the state of jazz piano in the year 2018. It is a rich time, when perhaps a dozen hugely talented artists have reached the peaks of their artistry. Keith Jarrett
, Marc Copland
, Brad Mehldau
, Bobo Stenson
, Denny Zeitlin
, Fred Hersch
and a handful more are creating some of the richest and most beautiful and original sounds imaginable with eighty-eight keys. Geniuses all.
With a perhaps lower profile among this exclusive group is Kenny Werner
, who might be called a musician's musician. Born in 1951, Werner proved early on to be a prodigy, recording with a fifteen piece orchestra at eleven years of age. Scores of albums have followed, includingto fast forward into the new millenniumThe Melody
(Pirouet Records, 2015), a trio affair that proved to be one of that year's top jazz albums. Like Marc Copland and Frank Kimbrough
, his goal seems to be the creation of pure beauty with every note he plays. It's a goal he has achieved here, with The Space
. The Space
is a solo piano outing, a celebration of, in Werner's words ..."being in the moment, content with what is." With this "Zen-ish" approach to creating sound, Werner offers up three graceful, sometimes playful originals and covers of tunes by Keith Jarrett ("Encore From Tokyo"), Michel Legrand ("You Must Believe in Spring"), and a pair of tunes from saxophonist Jason Seizer
, the set's engineer/producer.
It would be hard to find an album the begins more perfectly. "The Space" is sixteen minutes of the most enchanting music imaginable, a suite of sorts that brims with an off-kilter elegance and a deeply introspective ardor. This sets the album's template, the floating from the original tunes to the familiar with a delicacy and deftness of touch, closing out with Werner's "Fall From Grace," a dark-hued, grey diamond of a tune that pulls the curtain on the set with a somber but absolutely gorgeous note.
The Space; Encore from Tokyo; Fifth Movement; You Must Believe In Spring; Taro; Kiyoko; If I Should Lose You; Fall from Grace.
Kenny Werner: piano.