I’m not sure how I first became aware of Kenny Werner’s new CD, Lawn Chair Society. It might have been through a magazine ad, or possibly through an online New York Times review of a recent performance by the quintet. I have dug Kenny Werner since my early 20’s when he played with Mel Lewis’ Jazz Orchestra, so the idea of a Kenny Werner CD was interesting to me, but then I read that the band was Chris Potter, Dave Douglas, Scott Colley, and Brian Blade, and that interest ramped up a couple of levels. These guys are all favorites of mine. Interestingly, the album was produced by Lenny Picket. Yes, that Lenny Picket.
The album starts off in a manic kind of vibe. It is energetic in a way that is almost nervous. I like it. It has the kind of energy that won’t let my body be still. It’s not necessarily a funky dance thing, just an energy that causes me to move my body. There are electronic elements to this music, and in the liner notes Werner refers to it as his first “electronic voyage.” I don’t know if I would call it an electric album though. The heart of the music is acoustic, and the electronics are just one of the colors present. It at times calls to mind Douglas’ Keystone, and Potter’s Underground. I almost hate to even draw those comparisons, because someone will think they sound nothing alike, but they evoke similar vibes for me, and I think if you like Underground or Keystone, you will dig Lawn Chair Society.
While much of the album has the frenetic energy I mentioned above, there are a couple a drastic departures from that vibe. The fourth track, “Uncovered Heart”, is beautiful and sensitive with an arresting melodic presentation from bassist Colley. The ninth track is entitled “Loss”, and that is what it sounds like. It is deep and dark and moving. This flows into the trance-like “Kothbiro”, which closes the album with a slow and gradual journey from the dark back into a brighter place, then on to a peaceful conclusion. I realize that this may make the album seem a bit bipolar, but it really rides a nice organic curve that takes it to all of these spaces.
Full Disclosure: I didn’t buy this CD, but was given a copy by the promotion firm that is handling this release. It arrived unexpectedly, but serendipitously, because earlier that day I had thought to myself that I needed to order a copy of this CD.