Considered “a clear virtuoso” by the New York Times and “My kind of musician” by Quincy Jones, world-class pianist and composer Kenny Werner brings his piano jazz mastery to Harris Center in Folsom Feb. 14 & 15. Joining him will be the rest of his long-standing trio, Ari Hoenig and Johannes Weidenmueler.
From receiving the 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship Award for his masterpiece, “No Beginning No End,” to the publication of his groundbreaking book “Effortless Mastery” — one of the most widely read works on music and improvisation” Werner’s influence is unsurpassed. He has impacted an entire generation of musicians and artists.
Born in Brooklyn, on Nov. 19, 1951, and then growing up in Oceanside, Long Island, Kenny began playing performing at a young age, first recording and then appearing on television at the age of 11. Although he studied classical piano as a child, he enjoyed playing anything he heard on the radio. In high school and his first years of college he attended the Manhattan School of Music as a classical piano major.
His natural instinct for improvisation led Kenny to the Berklee School of Music in 1970. There he sought tutelage of the renowned piano teacher Madame Chaloff. Her gracious wisdom and inspiration became a driving force in Kenny’s conception: music conscious of its spiritual intent and essence.
Several outstanding musical partnerships began in the 1990’s. Kenny continues to play duo with Toots Thielemans, the legendary harmonica player. For twenty years he has played with and arranged for Betty Buckley, a Broadway legend. They made six albums together and she has sung his arrangements for small band and orchestras across the globe. He also has had a nearly 40-year friendship and musical collaboration with Joe Lovano. They have recorded on a number of each other’s projects.
In 2000, Kenny formed a new trio with Ari Hoenig on drums and Johannes Weidenmueller on bass. They released three albums, with Kenny acting as composer, arranger, and pianist. “Peace – Live at the Blue Note,” released in 2004, began a wonderful relationship with Half Note Records, the recording arm of the Blue Note Jazz Club. He created three CDs before the release of his masterpiece, “No Beginning No End.”
In 2007, Kenny Werner released his first album for Blue Note Records, “Lawn Chair Society,” featuring Chris Potter, Dave Douglas, Scott Colley, and Brian Blade, received critical acclaim for its fusion of electro and acoustic elements. For several years now he has also toured with his quintet featuring David Sanchez on sax, the legendary trumpet player Randy Brecker, Antonio Sanchez on drums and Scott Colley on bass. Their recent release on Half Note is titled “Balloons.”
Despite his creative output, Kenny is still focused on the music. “I am still more and more aware of the true purpose of the music and the people who play it: to heal and unite the planet.”
Kenny Werner Trio will perform at 7 and 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14, and Saturday, Feb. 15. Tickets are priced at $29 to $39; student with ID pay $12. Tickets are available online at harriscenter.net or from Harris Center ticket office at (916) 608-6888 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Parking is included in the price of the ticket. Harris Center is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, facing East Bidwell Street.