Born November 19, 1951 in Brooklyn. His love of the classics was nurtured when, while still in high school, he attended the Manhattan School of Music, where he became a concert piano major upon completion of his high school studies. Werner’s emotional need to improvise began to take him out of the classical world, and into the world of jazz. So, in 1970, he transferred to the Berklee School of Music. There he began to find his creative direction.
In 1977, Kenny Werner recorded his first LP that featured of the music of Bix Beiderbecke, Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson and George Gershwin and later that year with Charles Mingus on “Something Like A Bird”. In 1981, Werner recorded his own solo album of original compositions entitled ‘Beyond the Forest of Mirkwood’ .
The following year, Werner recorded the sounds heard coming from his Brooklyn-based studio – a hotbed of late-night jam sessions — and titled the record after his address, 298 Bridge Street.In 1984 he joined the Mel Lewis Orchestra. He was beginning to perform more and more in Europe and New York City as a leader and in duos with such notables as Rufus Reid, Ray Drummond and Jaki Byard, also doing stints in the groups of Eddie Gomez, Tom Harrell, Joe Lovano and many others.
Since 1989 he has served as pianist, arranger and musical director for the noted film, television and Broadway star, Betty Buckley. Since 1995 he has performed and recorded with TootsThielemans. Mostly in duo, the two have also performed as a trio with Oscar Castro-Neves and as a quartet with Airto Moreira. Toots and Kenny have a wonderful duo CD named after them. Kenny earned a Grammy nomination for his composition on that CD titled, ‘Inspiration’. Kenny has a deep connection to Brazillian music having played and recorded with Joyce and recently with Joyce and Dori Cayimi.
Werner has received performance grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in both 1985 and 1987, and was commissioned to compose and conduct a memorial piece for Duke Ellington at St. John of the Divine Church in New York performed by the Manhattan School of Music’s Stage Band and the New York City Choir. He has also won the distinguished Composer award from the New Jersey Council for the Arts.Since 1999 he has had a trio with Ari Hoenig on drums and Johannes Wiedenmueller on bass. They have released three CDs together; Form and Fantasy, Beat Degeneration and Peace, Live at the Blue Note.
In July of 2006, Kenny Werner released his CD for Half Note records, again live at the Blue Note. This is a quintet featuring David Sanchez, Kenny Wheeler, Brian Blade and Scott Colley. In the fall he recorded his first CD for Blue Note Records, ‘’Lawn Chair Society’. Staying with the quintet form for the moment, this has been recorded with Brian Blade and Scott Colley, only this time joined by Chris Potter and Dave Douglas.
(extract courtesy Zvents, USA)
The Institute of Higher Learning
Distribution in France: Naïve
Release date: October 01, 2011
Following his solo recording released by French label OutNote, Kenny Werner once more with his favourite big band: The Brussels Jazz Orchestra
Long regarded as one of Europe’s premier big bands – a group that “manifests love,” according to Grammy-winning arranger Maria Schneider – The Brussels Jazz Orchestra has joined hands with Kenny Werner to create a winning ”tableau vivant” of spirited writing and performance. The Institute of Higher Learning features a sumptuous 3-part suite, “Cantabile”, that reinforces Werner’s place among forward-thinking jazzmen in a singular way. Textural, rhythmic, evincing cascading swirls of color, it was inspired by Bob Brookmeyer and is dedicated to him.
Label: Half Note
Distribution in France: Naive
Release date: March 15, 2011
Kenny Werner assembles a sterling group of associates – Randy Brecker, David Sanchez, John Patitucci, Antonio Sanchez – for an in-depth examination of four originals, all showcasing Werner’s singular approach to composition and the group’s approach to improvisation. The tracks are spirited, lyrical, possessing song-like qualities that evoke both a meditative air and the effortless whimsy
of children at play. That these “children” are among jazz greatest practitioners, and Werner among its most compelling conceptualizers, only underscores the sophistication of this record. The connections made here take us to a place where, as Werner puts it, “the music essentially plays itself.”
No Beginning No End
Label: Half Note
Distribution in France: Naive
Release date: August 24, 2010
The recording of « No Beginning, No End » has won Kenny Werner the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship Award in 2010. Kenny Werner’s magnum opus with voices and strings is a deeply personal tribute to his daughter Katheryn. Classical and jazz, composed and improvised, performed by close to 100 musicians with highlights created by the saxophone of Joe Lovano and the voice of Judy Silvano. “No Beginning, No End” is a milestone composition as much for its creative reach as for the emotional terrain it examines. “The best music I’ll ever write” is how the artist puts it. (source Amazon)
Lawn Chair Society
Label: Blue Note
Distribution in France: EMI
Release date: March 01, 2007
Active for nearly three decades, Kenny Werner has earned a reputation as one of the most inventive pianists and composers in jazz. With Lawn Chair Society, he joins the illustrious roster of Blue Note Records and unveils the most thrilling and unorthodox statement of his career thus far. He is joined by some of the best players in the world – Dave Douglas, in a rare sideman appearance, on trumpet and cornet; Chris Potter on tenor sax and bass clarinet; Scott Colley on bass; and Brian Blade on drums. With the aid of producer Lenny Pickett, Werner and the band conjure a subtle blend of acoustic and electronic elements. The results are melodically rich, sonically futuristic, offhandedly virtuosic, and politically resonant.
Form and Fantasy
Label: night bird music-NBM
Release date: January 01, 2001