Kenny Werner

Beat Degeneration: Live, Vol. 2

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Pianist Kenny Werner is a wonderful improviser, who generally releases noteworthy solo recordings. Besides stints as an educator and author, Werner is also recognized as a first-call session musician. On this 2002 release, recorded live at a Paris club, the pianist and his young rhythm section add spice and verve to the commonalities often witnessed in modern jazz piano trio fare. Here, they meld ebullience and panache with a hip outlook amid cleverly articulated choruses. Werner is a supreme melodicist who fuses delicate voicings with furiously executed single-note runs and sweeping arpeggios. Nonetheless, the band conveys an obvious comfort zone on this superb effort. They extol the virtues of jazz via radiant hard bop motifs while having a little fun with rock-funk grooves. Part of the excitement resides within Werner and bassist Johannes Weidenmueller's shrewd harmonic episodes while drummer Ari Hoenig effectively maintains the sinuous ebb and flow. The musicians are liable to reconfigure themes in concert with a few unanticipated shifts in strategy. A memorable set, indeed! Zealously recommended.

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