This telephone interview with pianist, composer and bandleader Muhal Richard Abrams was recorded a few days before his 1996 orchestra concert at the Kennedy Center. That performance also marked the world premiere of an Abrams’ commission, Duet for Violin and Piano. Eighteen years later to the day, Muhal returned to the Kennedy Center, where I shot this pic at close of his concert.
Why don’t you tell us about the music you’re playing here this coming week?
Well, each piece is completely different. It’s original music; some older pieces and some newer pieces recently composed, of course.
Pianist-composer Kenny Werner’s impact can be measured on a number of levels. As a theorist, his book Effortless Mastery-Liberating the Master Musician Within has had a lasting influence on a generation of musicians since it was first published in 1996. As a player with great skill and imagination, Werner has led his various trios since 1981, and recorded dozens of sessions as leader or sideman. In recent years, he’s stepped up as a composer of larger works, receiving commissions from jazz and symphony orchestras in the U.S. and Europe. Werner’s ambitious 2010 recording No Beginning, No End, led to a recent Guggenheim Fellowship, and his latest release, Institute of Higher Learning (Half Note), documents his collaborationwith the Brussels Jazz Orchestra. Werner made time for this late-night listening session following his Kennedy Center performance with Toots Thielemans.
1. Erroll Garner
“Penthouse Serenade” (from Long Ago and Far Away, Columbia). Garner, piano; John Simmons, bass; Shadow Wilson, drums. Recorded in 1951.