Kenny Werner Trio: Kenny Werner, Johannes Weidenmuller, Ari Hoenig.
Kenny Werner has long seemed to be one of the best-kept secrets in jazz, recording a number of fine dates for various labels but never achieving the wide acclaim he clearly deserves. This live set, recorded in early 2003 at the Blue Note, features the veteran pianist with bassist Johannes Weidenm?ller and drummer Ari Hoenig, kicking off with a breathtaking medley of two Wayne Shorter compositions, "Pinocchio" and "Fall." His playful reworking of the standard "All the Things You Are," called "All Things Are You," refuses to be pigeonholed, at times suggesting the influence of Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell, though eventually moving into post-bop. Werner's lush ballad "Jabali" is accented by Hoenig's crisp brushwork and Weidenm?ller's spacious bassline. The leader begins Horace Silver's "Peace" with an extended solo before his bandmates join him. The old warhorse "Stella By Starlight" sounds like a brand new work with Werner's abstract arrangement, which slowly unfolds in a tense setting before eventually revealing itself. Weidenm?ller's skipping bass introduces Thelonious Monk's "Evidence," which mixes bop with Latin jazz percussion. The elegant "Chach" almost suggests a hymn; in any case, this lovely ballad deserves to have lyrics. Highly recommended. ~ Ken Dryden