Esperanza and Kenny

By JON GARELICK  |  September 28, 2010

For the first time as a composer, Werner found himself offering dramatic cues rather than the typical dynamic markings. So he'd say, "Here your awareness is rising, hope is beginning to blossom." Or, to Lovano for that opening statement following the accident: "You've just been thrust into a web of angels, and you're confused."

"The whole point of this piece was to straddle the physical world and the transcendent world," he explains. And he found himself functioning more like a classical composer. "I couldn't rely on a bass player and drummer to write on top of. This wasn't a concerto grosso for jazz trio and orchestra." Instead, the piece had to be generated "from the orchestra itself."

The five-movement suite is complemented by a choral piece that's all free-floating transcendence, a single-movement string quartet that's sheer anguish, and a final coda for piano, vibes, marimba, and harp that's like a benediction. Werner says that the piece has provided him with the opportunity to think cinematically. And he's given Lovano and Silvano two of their finest roles. The pianist/composer himself appears briefly throughout the piece, albeit eloquently. "I'm the Alfred Hitchcock in this movie," says Werner with a smile in his voice. "Just a cameo."

ESPERANZA SPALDING CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY | Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy St, Cambridge | October 2 at 8 pm | $22–$32 | 617.876.4275 or worldmusic.org | KENNY WERNER QUARTET | Scullers, DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston | October 6 at 8 pm | $20 | 617.562.4120 or scullersjazz.com

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  Topics: Jazz , Music, Berklee College of Music, Esperanza Spalding,  More more >
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