Kenny Werner

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Kenny Werner
Kenny Portrait BN.jpg
Background information
Born (1951-11-19) November 19, 1951 (age 70)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Years active1961–present
Labels Concord, RCA, Double-Time, Half Note, Justin Time
Associated acts Joe Lovano, Betty Buckley

Kenny Werner (born November 19, 1951) is an American jazz pianist, composer, and author. [1]


Early life

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 19, 1951 and then growing up in Oceanside, Long Island, Werner began playing and performing at a young age, first appearing on television at the age of 11. Although he studied classical piano as a child, he enjoyed playing anything he heard on the radio and improvisation was his true calling. In high school and his first years of college he attended the Manhattan School of Music as a classical piano major.

His aptitude for improvisation led him to the Berklee College of Music in 1970, where he met and studied with his first piano/spiritual teacher, Madame Chaloff. From Boston, Werner traveled to Brazil with the saxophonist Victor Assis Brasil. There he met Assis's twin brother, Brazilian pianist Joao Assis Brasil. His studies with Joao and Madame Chaloff would lead to the writing of the book Effortless Mastery .

Later life and career

Werner started his own trio in 1981 with drummer Tom Rainey and bassist Ratzo Harris. The Kenny Werner Trio matured for fourteen years, touring in America and Europe and recording four albums along the way.

In the 1980s, he became the pianist for The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra (now known as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra). Challenged by Lewis and Bob Brookmeyer to write for the band, he produced his first compositions and arrangements for jazz orchestra, consequently leading him to write for the bands in Europe including the Cologne, Danish, and Stockholm Jazz Orchestras, the Umo Jazz Orchestra of Finland and several times as the guest composer and soloist with the Metropole Orchestra of Holland. Since then Werner has had commissions to write for large ensembles such as jazz orchestras, full orchestras and most in 2007, wind ensemble, choir and string quartet as featured on his album No Beginning, No End (2009).

Werner continued to play duo with Toots Thielemans for seventeen years. They recorded an album together and Werner received a Grammy nomination for his composition, "Inspiration." For twenty years, he was musical director for Broadway star Betty Buckley. [1] They made six albums together and she has sung his arrangements for small bands and orchestras. He and Joe Lovano have recorded and collaborated on each other's projects for over 40 years.

During the 1990s, Werner made three award-winning albums: Kenny Werner at Maybeck , Concord Duo Series, Vol. 10, and Live at Visiones. [1]

In 2000, Werner formed a trio with Ari Hoenig on drums and Johannes Weidenmueller on bass, with Werner acting as composer, arranger, and pianist. In 2007, he released his first album for Blue Note, Lawn Chair Society, featuring Chris Potter, Dave Douglas, Scott Colley, and Brian Blade.

Werner was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for the album No Beginning No End (Half Note, 2010), which explored tragedy and loss, death and transition, and the path from one lifetime to the next. The album featured Joe Lovano, Judi Silvano, and over seventy musicians.

In 1996, Werner wrote a book about the psychological aspects of music in Effortless Mastery – Liberating the Master Musician Within. He lectured to support the book.



As leader

As sideman

With Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra

With Joe Lovano

With Archie Shepp

With others


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  1. 1 2 3 Proefrock, Stacia. "Kenny Werner | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 November 2016.