Jens Søndergaard / Kenny Werner

Play Ballads

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Kenny Werner and Jens Søndergaard are two seasoned veterans who had played together a few times prior to this 2008 studio session, though this meeting deliberately had little preparation. Werner, a gifted pianist and teacher who deserves wider recognition, did not even know which songs the alto saxophonist had selected until he arrived, a deliberate choice to encourage spontaneous approaches to each of the eight standards. As a result, pieces like "'Round Midnight" venture into fresh territory, gaining an Impressionistic flavor, while Werner introduces "A Time for Love" with a bit of Leonard Bernstein's "'Some Other Time." Both men are at their best in the imaginative setting of "Over the Rainbow." Søndergaard switches to baritone sax for "But Beautiful" and clarinet for "Lover Man," playing each instrument as if it were his primary one. The alto sax in the bluesy treatment of "Willow Weep for Me" initially suggests the sound of a harmonica, evolving into a more vocal sound as the piece progresses. This brilliant meeting is worthy of a follow-up record date.

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