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Kenny Werner: The Space

Dan McClenaghan By

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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, including—to fast forward into the new millennium—The 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.

Track Listing: The Space; Encore from Tokyo; Fifth Movement; You Must Believe In Spring; Taro; Kiyoko; If I Should Lose You; Fall from Grace.

Personnel: Kenny Werner: piano.

Title: The Space | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Pirouet Records

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