Kenny Werner Biography

19 November 1951, New York City, New York, USA. Werner began playing piano as a small child and at the age of 11 appeared on television. He studied classical and jazz piano, the former at the Manhattan School of Music, the latter at the Berklee College Of Music. Graduating from Berklee in 1973, he gigged with various leaders and led his own group for club engagements and on record. During the rest of the decade, he worked in various bands and then in the 80s he was in bands led by Chico Freeman, Dizzy Gillespie, Mel Lewis, Joe Lovano, Charles Mingus, Archie Shepp and others. He also frequently appeared solo and in duo with bass players such as Ray Drummond, Rufus Reid and Ratzo Harris, the latter being also a member of Werner’s regular trio along with drummer Tom Rainey.

In the late 80s, Werner began a distinguished concurrent career in music education, especially at New York’s New School, lecturing and conducting clinics. During the 90s he worked with Tom Harrell, Toots Thielemans, Chris Potter and Broadway star Betty Buckley, and wrote big band charts for ensembles such as the Cologne Radio Jazz Orchestra, the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra and the Umo Jazz Orchestra. In 1997 he began recording for BMG Records with a new trio featuring bass player Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette. His second release for BMG, 1999’s Beauty Secrets, featured Ari Hoenig (drums) and Johannes Weidenmueller (bass). These two musicians subsequently formed the backbone of Werner’s new trio. Although much of Werner’s playing is couched in bop and post-bop sensibilities, he is such an eclectic, adventurous and ambitious performer that labelling tends to unwarrantedly diminish his considerable achievements. In addition to acoustic piano, he also plays electric piano.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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