Kenny Werner, The Space (Pirouet)
Rifftides listeners are not likely to need instruction about how to hear Werner’s music, but it may be helpful to keep in mind the liner-note quote he takes from his 2013 book Effortless Mastery.
We do things from our conscious mind or we do them from the space. The conscious mind is small and fearful. From the space, we are in the moment, content with what is. From the space we make decisions without doubt, we celebrate the mistakes. I’m still learning how to be that free and detached in life. But in music, for decades I have received what comes to me from the space with joy and delicious gratitude.
The listener who is fully who open to Werner’s playing is likely to also feel joy and delicious gratitude. For sixteen minutes in the title piece that opens the album Werner caresses a magnificently tuned and recorded piano. The dynamics of his keyboard touch, and his harmonic conception, hew to the principle of freedom that he outlines in the paragraph above. He follows with two more of his own compositions, a calypso-flavored piece credited to Keith Jarrett, the Ralph Rainger-Leo Robin classic “If I Should Lose You,” Michel LeGrand’s “You Must Believe In Spring,” plus “Taro” and Kiyoko,” by album producer Jason Seizer. One suspects that Seizer deserves equal credit with Werner for the album’s immaculate sound quality.
Three years following his brilliant trio album The Melody, Werner has released a solo collection that, if anything, establishes him even more solidly among the masters of modern jazz piano.