Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Werner, Kenny

Werner, Kenny, piano, educator; b. Brooklyn, NY, 19 November 1951. He  grew up in Oceanside, Long Island. His father is Jack Werner (born December 18, 1911). His mother is Ruth Greenberg (born January 7, 1914. He has two brothers, Mark and Steve Werner, both born in Brooklyn, NY. Kenny's studied at Manhattan School of Music Prep. Division in High School (1966-68). His teacher was Zenon Fishbein. He went to college at the Manhattan School of Music for 1 and a half years, still taught by Fishbein. He then went to Berklee College Of Music where his teachers were Ray Santisi, Madame Chaloff and briefly, Charlie Banacas.

Werner's introduction to music and performing came at the age of four when he joined a children's song and dance group. At the age of eleven, he recorded a single with a fifteen-piece orchestra and appeared on television playing stride piano. In Boston he met his piano teacher and spiritual guide, Madame Chaloff "She was the first person I met who pulled together spiritual and musical aspects," recalls Werner. She ignited in him a concept that was furthered by his next teacher, Juao Assis Brasil, a concert pianist who successfully demonstrated to Werner effortless piano playing with a self-loving attitude. Werner met Mr. Brasil while touring South America with Juao's twin brother, Victor Assis Brasil.

In the early 80s Kenny Werner toured extensively with Archie Shepp. In 1984 he joined the Mel Lewis Orchestra. His appearances also included solo concerts in Europe and New York City and duos with such notables as Rufus Reid, Ray Drummond and Jaki Byard. Werner received performance grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in both 1985 and 1987, allowing him the unique opportunity to present his own music in a concert hall setting at Symphony Space in New York. He was also commissioned to compose and conduct a memorial piece for Duke Ellington at St. John of the Divine Church in New York. The Manhattan School of Music's Stage Band and the New York City Choir performed the work. Werner has also written compositions for the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, now known as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. In 1981, he began to play with bassist Ratzo Harris and drummer Tom Rainey. The trio with Harris and Rainey was an association that would last 14 years. The band agreed to terminate, for the moment, in 1995.

In the fall of 1987 Kenny Werner joined the faculty of the New School's jazz department in New York City, where he taught jazz harmony and theory for six years. He has given clinics at many universities in the United States and abroad, and teaches privately as well. Out of his teaching experience Werner had published articles in music and health magazines. It was the beginning of good things to come for him as an educator. Currently, he is the artist-in-residence at New York University and the artistic director for the Banff Center Jazz Program for 1999-2000.

In over a quarter century of performing, Werner has played with such jazz greats as Bob Brookmeyer, Ron Carter, Joe Williams, Chico Freeman, Sonny Fortune, Peter Erskine, John Abercrombie, Jackie Paris, Bobby McFerrin, Lee Konitz, Billy Hart, Marian McPartland, Joe Henderson, Tom Harrell, Gunther Schuller, Ed Blackwell, Paul Motian, John Scofield, Jack DeJohnette, Eddie Gomez, Dave Holland, Charlie Haden and Toots Thielemans. He continues to share a long and creative relationship with good friend Joe Lovano, and can be heard on several of Lovano's albums.

The nineties had found Werner still actively leading his own trio until the breakup in 95 and performing in the groups of Joe Lovano, Tom Harrell and Toots Thielemans, making numerous appearances in Europe, and writing big band charts for groups such as the Cologne Radio Jazz Orchestra (WDR), the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra and the Umo Jazz Orchestra (Finland). He has also served as pianist, arranger and musical director for the noted film, television and Broadway star, Betty Buckley.

From the mid-nineties till this time (2002), he most often plays in duet with Toots Thielemans or performs his own music, mostly with his current trio that features Ari Hoenig on drums and Johannes Wiedenmueller on bass. Most recently he is performing his works for Jazz orchestra, orchestra and other ensembles. He has been invited to classical festivals to play his music and write for those various ensembles.

His wife is Lorraine Schalamon Werner. His daughter is Katheryn Schalamon Werner, born December 1 1989. She plays violin, guitar and a little piano.

Recordings:
Peace: Live at the Blue Note; Naked in the Cosmos (with Brussels Jazz Orch.); Beat Degeneration; Toots Thielemans & Kenny Werner (2001); Form and Fantasy (with Johannes Weidenmueller, Ari Hoenig); Beauty Secrets (with Billy Hart, Drew Gress, Joe Lovano); A Delicate Balance (Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette); Unprotected Music; Live at Visiones;
Chris Potter and Kenny Werner duo: Live at Maybeck Hall; Live at Maybeck Hall; Paintings; Gu-Ru; Copenhagen Calypso; Meditations; Press Enter; Uncovered Heart (with  Joe Lovano, Randy Brecker, Eddie Gomez); Introducing the Trio; 298 Bridge St; Beyond the Forest of Mirkwood

As sideperson:
Toots Thielemans: The Live Takes - Vol. 1; Toots Thielemans & Kenny Werner: Hard to say goodbye; Charles Mingus: Somethin' Like A Bird; Archie Shepp: I Know About the Life, Soul Song, The Good Life; Joe Lovano: Tones, Shapes and Colors, Landmark, Universal Language, Celebrating Sinatra; Mel Lewis: Twenty Years at the Village Vanguard, Soft Lights and Hot Music, To You, Definitive Thad Jones, Definitive Thad Jones, Volume 2, Lost Art; Peter Erskine: Transition, Sweet Soul; Tom Harrell: Sail Away, Labyrinth; Lee Konitz: Zounds; Eddie Gomez: Street Talk; Joyce: Music Inside, Language&Love; Jerome Harris: Algorithms; Michael Bocian: For This Gift; Jim Pepper: Comin' and Goin'; Jamie Haddad: Names; Chico Freeman: Tangents; Jim Ponder: So Many Stars; Various Artists: Mostly Mercer; Greg Hyslop: Manhattan Date; Special EFX: Confidential, Global Village; Santi Debriano: Soldier of Fortune; Joe Locke: Present Tense; Torben Westerguard: What I Miss; Loren Schoenberg  S'Posin'; Christopher Hollyday: And I'll Sing Once More; Nils Wogram Quintet: New York Conversations; Andy Stattman: Between Heaven and Earth; Alex Reil, Jerry Bergonzi: The Real Deal; Betty Buckley: Children Will Listen, With One Look, The London Concert, Live At Carnegie Hall, Much More, Heart To Heart; Roseanne Vitro: Catching Some Rays, Reaching For the Moon; Shigeko Suzuki: Premiere

Video:
Effortless Mastery, Vol. 1

Bibliography:
Effortless Mastery (book)
Free Play (w. CD)
A Dialogue with Kenny Werner
An interview published by the Suburban Community Music Center, NJ
Channeling the Music - IAJE Conference, 1991
Transcription of a lecture by Ken Werner
Kind of Cool: Going Shopping with a Jazzman - by A. Craig Copetas
The WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 18, 2001
BBC Interview
An interview with Kenny Werner at the BBC.
Free Your Mind, Fingers Will Follow - by Peter Hum
The OTTAWA CITIZEN, July 23, 200
Discovering Music in the Space - by Mark Small
BERKLEE TODAY, Fall 1999 Issue, Volume 11, #2
Kenny Werner - 1999 Earshot Festival
An interview with Kenny at the Earshot Jazz Festival, Seattle
Interview
- by Alain Le Roux, LE JAZZ #10, July 2, 1998, at the Sunset Jazz Club, Paris
A Master of Bebop Buddhism in No-Man's Land
The INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, March 13, 1998

Awards:
1985 & 87- National Endowment For the Arts performance grants
1993- National Endowment for the Arts grant to present a concert in tribute to Mel Lewis
1995 - NEA awarded Werner another grant to compose a piano concerto dedicated to Duke Ellington, performed in February 1996 by the Cologne Radio Orchestra.
He also won the Distinguished Artist Award for Composition from the New Jersey Council of the Arts for a piece entitled "Kandinsky" from his CD, Paintings.

Contact information:
http://www.kennywerner.com
kenny@kennywerner.com

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