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Toots Thielemans & Kenny Werner

Kenny Werner & Toots Thielemans

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Album Review

The pairing of Toots Thielemans and Kenny Werner for several live duo concerts in mid-June of 2001 (although there is no audible audience response) is a dream come true for fans of ballads. Whether Werner sticks exclusively to piano or adds the lush strings from his synthesizer as well, he provides the perfect complement to the always lyrical harmonica of the veteran Thielemans. Although Thielemans was 79 at the time of this recording, he has lost none of the daredevil spirit he has demonstrated in the past on up-tempo romps such as those through an exciting "Autumn Leaves" or capturing the emotion within a gem such as Charlie Chaplin's bittersweet "Smile." The songs include beautiful interpretations of classic jazz compositions by Herbie Hancock ("Dolphin Dance"), Chick Corea ("Windows"), and Bill Evans (a medley of the moody "Time Remembered" and the upbeat "Very Early"). Medley salutes to Frank Sinatra, Michel Legrand, and music from Disney movies (a medley of "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "Someday My Prince Will Come") also earn high marks. Too many releases of this nature turn to mush because of repeated overdubs and splicing in of additional keyboard parts; the live nature of the recordings and the inspiration provided by the various audiences (even if listeners never hear them clap, cough, sneeze, or talk) clearly brings out the best in both Thielemans and Werner's playing. This warrants a follow-up date.

Biography

Born: 1951 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Born November 19, 1951 in Brooklyn, New York, Kenny Werner got an early start as a pianist. At the age of 11 he recorded a single with a 15-piece orchestra and appeared on television playing stride piano. He attended the Manhattan School of Music while still in high school, then became a concert piano major upon graduation. He felt the pull of jazz and decided to leave the Manhattan School for the Berklee School of Music in Boston, coming under the influence...
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Toots Thielemans & Kenny Werner, Kenny Werner
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