Monash Session: Kenny Werner - The New York City Jazz Record REVIEW

Press/Media: Expert Comment


A review, by Ken Dryden, in The New York City Jazz Record journal of the 2014 Monash Sessions recording with esteemed jazz artists, Kenny Werner:

In 2014 Kenny Werner was invited to the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University in Australia to serve as an Artist-in-Residence. Monash Sessions finds Werner leading three different small groups drawn from the student body playing his challenging originals, though at least two musicians, trumpeter Paul Williamson and trombonist Jordan Murray, are faculty members. Werner has long been recognized as a versatile composer known for his demanding compositions and arrangements, so his students had their work cut out for them and are clearly inspired by this jazz master. The first group is faced with the tricky Ornette Coleman-like “Yump”, a dissonant, constantly shifting work putting a lot of demands on the rhythm section. Following Werner’s extended solo, tenor saxophonist Stephen Byth and Williamson shine with inventive.

improvisations that fit the spirit of the piece. By comparison, Werner’s lush jazz waltz “Autumn in 3” is a walk in the park for the first band, showcasing bassist Marty Holoubek in a solo worthy of a veteran. The second unit plays a mix of old and new pieces. Werner takes his time exploring his introspective ballad “Lorraine” with just bassist Hiroki Hoshino and drummer Robert Mercer providing sensitive, subdued backing. “Ivoronics” is a testing ground for the students as it mixes hardbop with some dissonance, returning to more familiar territory for the blistering solos by tenor saxophonist Aidan Hodge and the veteran Murray, Werner demonstrating his superb chops as well. Gorgeous ballad “Chach” has a timeless, old-world sound, as if evolved from a folk song, with Murray and Hodge providing harmony for Werner’s creative solo. “Balloons”, previously recorded by Werner in 2010 on the Half Note album of the same name and 2014’s The Melody (Pirouet), has the pianist playing a child-like chanting bass vamp along with his increasingly complex melody, Murray’s expressive trombone then buoyed by Werner’s brilliant accompaniment. The final group expands to a sextet with three horns by adding Brodie Everest’s alto saxophone, Paul Cornelius’ tenor saxophone and Chris Vizard’s trombone. The whirlwind performance of “Free Wheelin’” is followed by a new look at the Werner repertoire staple “Beauty Secrets” (recorded four times between 1999-2008), which features the leader extensively and a fine effort by Cornelius. This Australian recording is a hidden gem in Kenny Werner’s extensive discography.

Period1 May 2016

Media coverage


Media coverage

  • TitleMonash Session: Kenny Werner - The New York City Jazz Record REVIEW
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletThe New York City Jazz Record
    Media typePrint
    Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
    DescriptionMonash Session: Kenny Werner - The New York City Jazz Record REVIEW
    PersonsPaul Williamson


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