As most readers of this site will know, Kenny Werner
is one of the most accomplished modern pianists in jazz today, and aside from an extensive career as a noted sideman and soloist, Werner has enjoyed much popularity as the leader of several distinguished piano trios. His latest trio, featuring talented Europeans Johannes Wiedenmuller on bass and Ari Hoenig on drums, is the focus of his new CD, "Beat Degeneration"
This CD, recorded live in Paris during the fall of 2000, consists exclusively of Werner original compositions. These are complex pieces, each which takes the listener on a journey through a maze of styles, tempos, and moods. Though Werner's playing and compositions take the band in a definite modern direction, the band can still swing hard, as exemplified by the joyous tune "Yump".
Of the current group, Werner states, "I am feeling a unique relationship, not just a trio." This is very evident in the tightness and synchronicity of the group, which moves and breathes together in solidarity that is not often found even among players of giant accomplishments. Listening again and again to this CD, I am struck with how much Ari Hoenig sounds like young Steve Gadd, playing in a very busy but unobtrusive fashion, never overpowering the band.
"Beat Degeneration" is yet another impressive addition to Kenny Werner's CD catalog and should be required listening for anyone interested in the art of the modern piano trio.