Collaboration – Kenny Werner

Collaboration has a dozen fascinating and mostly free improvisations by the great pianist Kenny Werner in a trio.

Pianist Kenny Werner, bassist Hein Van De Geyn and drummer Hans Van Oosterhout have worked together on an occasional basis in the past including taking a short tour and functioning as Toots Thielemans’ quartet for a few concerts. But while the musicians are familiar with each other, they have not performed together all that often. Rather than sharing years of mutual experiences, they share a similar outlook towards improvising jazz. Their common vision is on display throughout this continually fascinating and intriguing disc.

With Werner leading the way, the trio creates new compositions and improvisations on the spot during a dozen performances. One of Werner’s songs, “Elegante,” is explored at great length. The trio also performs Paul Simon’s “Sound Of Silence” and the standard “There Will Never Be Another You.” However even those two songs are mostly freely improvised with the tunes being largely unrecognizable until late in the performances when the melodies gradually appear.

In addition to the close interplay and the many fine Van De Geyn bass solos, it is difficult not to be impressed by Kenny Werner’s chord voicings. Not only does he seem to know every chord ever played but gives the impression that he is creating some never heard before.

Even with the fairly free playing on many of these selections, the results are often melodic, lyrical and a logical extension of each piece’s ideas. Collaboration deserves several close listens.

Scott Yanow