Kenny Werner – The Space – Pirouet Records PIT 3106 54:22****
( Kenny Werner – piano)
Kenny Werner is an innovator. Whether he is playing the piano, composing for the piano, or writing about the piano, Werner is perceptive, eloquent, and erudite. His latest piano offering, The Space, checks all the previously indicated boxes and challenges the listener to put away any preconceived ideas of what might be called jazz music.
This album is built around an extended composition by Werner calls “The Space”. The other pieces are an eclectic mix of standards, a number by Keith Jarrett, a couple of other Werner compositions, as well as from the label’s artistic director Jason Seizer.
“The Space” is not only the name of the album and its title track, it is also a chapter in Werner’s book Effortless Mastery that deals with creativity and his approach to playing such as being in the moment and content with what is. The composition opens with some moody simple single notes which in effect sets the tone and the spirit for the balance of the number. As the number progresses, the proliferation of the notes increases but never to the point of overwhelming the intent of the interpretation. There is a sense that Werner is constantly aware of the musical environment in which he is operating.
A fitting but brief follow up track is a Keith Jarrett composition “Encore From Tokyo.” Jarrett’s writing style falls into Werner’s pianistic wheelhouse as he establishes the various harmonic configurations and striking flourishes to full effect.
The two popular standards that Werner takes under his wing are Michel Legrand’s “You Must Believe In Spring” and the Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin well known favourite “ If I Should Lose You”. The interpretations offered by Werner could not be any more different. The former is a dense rumination filled with complexity. Werner’s attentive touch brings the number together in an intense flow. On the latter number Werner ups the tempo, but still remains meditative and tasteful as he gambols in single note fashion over the tune.
The album closes with another Werner original “Fall From Grace”. This composition would not be out of place in a classical setting as it has the colour and quality that one might associate with a Johann Sebastian Bach sonata. Playing with astute restraint, the number evolves with shape and coherence as Werner completes the recital in unhurried fashion.
Encore From Tokyo
You Must Believe In Spring
If I Should Lose You
Fall From Grace
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