Kenny Werner

Gu-Ru

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This outstanding trio date by Kenny Werner should come as no surprise, especially with his consistently high level of playing during the decade in which it was recorded. With bassist Ratzo Harris and drummer Tom Rainey, the pianist shows the influence of the late great Bill Evans without resorting to copying his style. His original compositions make up most of the date, starting with the very tense "Little Blue Man." The lyricism of "Trio for Bill" makes it seem likely that Werner was referring to Bill Evans in its title, but this is not confirmed in Kurt Weil's liner notes. Trumpeter Tim Hagans, tenor saxophonist Billy Drews, and percussionist Jamie Haddad join Werner's trio for his introspective "Shivaya." He also plays two standards: a rather unconventional and very percussive arrangement of Rodgers and Hart's "Have You Met Miss Jones?" that has a definite Latin flavor at times but also ventures into post-bop; while his interpretation of Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance" adds a slow, spacious introduction before his rhythm section finally joins him, and he ventures far into the piece before he gets around to playing its theme. Werner adds a discretely played synthesizer for his composition "Gu-Ru," an almost meditative work that merits repeated listening. Highly recommended.

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