Kenny Werner returned to the stage at the end of tonight’s show, saying “I’m doing the encore myself. No overtime tonight.” He dedicated the encore to “my favorite artist of all time, who also happens to be from Canada. Joni Mitchell. If you know her, please let her know I’d like to come over to her house and play together. And if she’s in another room painting, I’ll sit in her living room and play music for her. So much creative genius in one person I don’t know where it all comes from.” Smiling, he segued into the first soulful notes of Mitchell’s I Had A King. (When that left the audience standing, clapping for more, the full quintet did return to the stage for the second encore, Nat Adderley’s straight-ahead Work Song.)
The preceding set had dug deeply into the recent Lawnchair Society recording, most notably the satirical Inaugural Ball, written just after the 2004 Presidential election. “Because”, Werner said, “I felt like I had to do something.” He described the tune as speaking to the American public’s complacency and general lack of global awareness. The title comes from Werner creating a funky, changing-meter pastiche and imagining what it would be like for all of the 2004 inaugural ball attendees to dance it. That’s been my favorite number on the recording since I first heard it, but I appreciated its quirky humor, quick stop/starts, and rapidfire meter changes even more tonight with that new understanding of it.
Big mention here to each of the veteran band members, who took turns holding down the melody and flying face-first into the complexities of Werner’s collection of originals. Another night of top talent on stage. Wow! I hope a new recording will be in the works soon.
Day two at the Festival concluding now. Tomorow’s plan: I’ll know when I get there!
(The Quintet: Antonio Sanchez, percussion; David Sanchez, tenor sax; Randy Brecker, trumpet; Scott Colley, bass; Kenny Werner, piano)