Print, Online, Radio
Animal Crackers: The Kenny Werner Trio opens up a box of tasty musical surprises 18 years together, three consummate storytellers, pianist Kenny Werner, bassist Johannes Weidenmüller and drummer Ari Hoenig, create an incisive masterpiece of spontaneous discovery.
Kenny Werner was so enamored of a rhythm Ari Hoenig had created for an arrangement on one of his own albums that Werner wrote the melody for Ari around it. The piece has a dark minor feel, over Ari’s rhythmic layering. There’s a whimsy and lightness to the trio’s version of Jerome Kern’s The Song Is You as they dissect, transform and expand the song. Kenny says that, “One of our favorite things to do is take a standard and turn it into one of our own compositions.” Werner’s Animal Crackers has the sense of child-like joy, as the trio plays with time and line. Kenny calls it a challenging song. “It’s more of an étude. The idea of the complexity is that it sounds simple but abstract.” First freely improvised and later orchestrated by Werner, Breathing Torso undertakes a journey into the heart of the band as they sing of the body electric. The trio once again transforms a standard on I Should Care, with the melody more implied than stated as the three play around and outside the changes. A companion piece to Who, from the trio’s 2015 Pirouet record, The Melody, What? seems to venture into some sort of dark Avant-funk, as the trio explores new territory, electronic overdubs and all. The trio’s beautiful interpretation of the standard If I Should Lose You floats in out of a balladic and a medium-up swing feel. The Latinesque Iago was inspired by the harmonic concepts of Brazilian composer Weber Iago, and Mechanical Arm is another collaborative concoction that breathes life into the machine through rhythmic layering and group interplay. With Animal Crackers, Kenny Werner and his trio have created an intricate, passionate album that feeds the spirit as well as the senses.