[JPL] Yep, Thats Quite a Band, but Its Days Are Numbered
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 12 16:01:54 EDT 2007
March 8, 2007
Music Review | Kenny Werner All-Star Quintet
Yep, Thats Quite a Band, but Its Days Are Numbered
By BEN RATLIFF
Occasionally you hear jazz performed thats so
detailed, chiseled and compressed with energy that
its hard to imagine the musicians doing it twice a
night, six nights in a row. Such is the case with the
pianist Kenny Werners quintet at Dizzys Club this
Mr. Werners career has been all over the place for 25
years: a long-running trio that never quite rose above
the hedges, long-standing gigs with the harmonica
player Toots Thielemans and the singer Betty Buckley.
He is a radical melodic improviser and a strong,
logical organizer of rhythm and harmony. He processes
a lot, all the time, and often produces music thats
pleasant and easy on the outside, but rippling with
incident: shifts in meter, tempo and tonality.
His quintet at Dizzys includes Chris Potter on tenor
saxophone, Nicholas Payton on trumpet, Hans
Glawischnig on bass and Brian Blade on drums. The gig
is a consequence of Mr. Werners very good new album,
Lawn Chair Society, released this week on Blue Note.
It isnt a working band; after this week it has no
more dates on the calendar. Yet it was crazy how much
it behaved like one, in the old-fashioned sense of
steady comportment spread across consecutive solos,
and the front lines strong connection to the rhythm
In the many recent eulogies for the saxophonist
Michael Brecker, much was said about how hard it was
to follow him after one of his solos, almanacs of jazz
knockout gestures from the late 1950s to the present.
Mr. Potters solos were much like this: narrow and
dense with passing tones and long, athletic strings of
notes all over the horn, then suddenly wide open with
meditative, smoky long tones.
Some of the brilliant moments of the set were
contrasts of energy, either within a single solo, or
between Mr. Potters solos and Mr. Paytons, which
were cool, supple, focused and inventive. In New
Amsterdam everyones strengths came together. It
began with a broken funk pattern from the piano, and
the horns ran harmonized chromatic lines through it.
Suddenly it changed over to swing time, and Mr. Payton
played through the switch without breaking stride. By
the time Mr. Blade crashed his cymbal to signal the
change in rhythm in the middle of the measure, one
of the ingenious delayed-gratification strategies he
used throughout the set Mr. Payton was off and
running. The crash forced a gasp from audience
members, but they were probably already silently
gasping a few beats before.
Continuing on, Mr. Payton used pointed, abrupt blues
lines; he played rising and falling patterns, the
phrases balancing precariously on the rhythm; then he
handsomely wrapped up his solo, with melodic
improvising. When his turn came, Mr. Werner played
with great force and velocity, pushing out abstract
gushers with a steely touch, then sequences of easy
Given some time a band like this could transform into
something extraordinary; it could achieve the more
modern working-band feeling of freedom within mere
suggestions of external structure. And it wouldnt be
short on original material, since Mr. Werners tunes
range from Wayne Shorter-like deep-harmony miniatures
to meditative, tolling pieces anchored by open
left-hand chords to post-bop mazes. Keep your fingers
The Kenny Werner All-Star Quintet continues through
Sunday night at Dizzys Club Coca-Cola, Rose Hall,
60th Street and Broadway, (212) 258-9595 or jalc.org.
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
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