Kenny Werner (3 stars)

Kenny Werner

Lawn Chair Society (Blue Note Records)


Pianist Kenny Werner forsakes the comfort and familiarity of his customary trio setting for a more ambitious conceptual approach to his music on this recording, his first for Blue Note. A row of lawn chairs upturned by the wind near his home became an implicit metaphor for the current cultural malaise inflicting an American society that he sees as living in its own unreal world of over-inflated triviality, oblivious to the desolation elsewhere (some of it wreaked by America itself).

If that sounds a bit weighty, the music doesn’t get bogged down in either explicit commentary or earnest brow-beating. The mix of acoustic and electric instruments and the emphasis on the ensemble feel rather than showy soloing pays handsome dividends, and when soloing does take over, collaborators like Dave Douglas on trumpet and Chris Potter on saxophone guarantee the level of artistry involved is never in doubt.

(Kenny Mathieson)

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