Personnel: Kenny Werner (piano); Marc Johnson (bass); Joey Baron (drums).
Recorded at Avatar Studios, New York, New York on December 9, 1997. Includes liner notes by Bill Milkowski.
Decidedly one of Werner's best albums, Unprotected Music marks the debut of yet another inventive Werner-led trio. Bassist Marc Johnson does not appear until the third track, giving drummer Joey Baron the floor for the fast-moving "Displivet" and the aptly named ballad "Dark." Johnson arrives fashionably late for "Prelude to a Tribute" and the adjoining "Tribute to Sonny," named for tenor giant Sonny Rollins. Later, listeners are given a delightful dose of Johnson unaccompanied on the track simply labeled "Bass Solo." The full trio is ferocious on "Hell Realm," "Eight Groove," and Cole Porter's "It's Alright With Me," but in just one of several rich contrasts, Baron sits out for "Vague Wanderings," allowing Johnson to place simple, round tones underneath Werner's eloquent pianism. "Luv" takes the cake; Baron's hand drumming is incredibly suave, and Werner whistles the catchy melody in unison with his right hand for a couple of choruses. It's priceless. ~ David R. Adler