Music review: Gig left audience a world apart

Source: The Royal Gazette

Jazz musicians and enthusiasts were in the audience as the Kenny Werner Trio took centre stage at the Bermuda Festival.

Some remembered Werner when he played at the Hamilton Princess in the early 70s.

Seating in the Mid-Ocean Amphitheatre at the Fairmont Southampton on Friday was at 30 tables, arranged so all could see the stage unencumbered.

The line-up on stage was traditional: at right was the piano, then bass and drums.

First up was Bach’s Siciliano , from the second flute sonata. Werner started it almost like a fugue reminiscent of Jacques Loussier, the pioneer of jazz/Bach fusion. Ari Hoenig was on drums.

His brushwork was perfect as was Johannes Weidenmüller’s bass; the trio are welded together with empathy born from long teamwork.

As the piece developed, the tempo increased, the chords got bigger, the drums jazzier. The players transformed the piece utterly, so at the end it almost sounded mambo-like.

Next was Werner’s own composition, Balloons. I found it had a Middle Eastern flavour rather like Saint-Saëns’ fifth piano concerto, turning on a hypnotic bass line into a sort of swing piece, which included the drummer playing tabla-style with hands and also an extended drum and bass solo while Werner left the stage.

Werner believes that music is an immersive experience with the musicians “becoming one” with it. The interaction between all three musicians was intimate and intuitive, almost uncanny because all instantly stopped or started. But dedication to the music’s interpretation and intimacy within the trio is paid for with less regard to audience input. This is a pity.

While our knowledgeable audience applauded generously and sincerely after each dazzling piece of solo or teamwork, the band appeared not to notice much.

This in turn had a dampening effect on our enthusiasm. So while their interpretations of Thelonius Monk’sAmongst and Horace Silver’s Peace were world class, and their improvisations on Greensleeves quite unique, we just didn’t really feel part of it all.

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