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Kenny Werner

Lawn Chair Society

(Blue Note; US: 6 Mar 2007; UK: 9 Apr 2007)

Review [18.Jul.2007]

Break up the horn line by throwing in rests, and provide a juxtaposition to this disjunct feeling with an electronic hissing background. Tenor and muted trumpet tones are perfectly subdued for this broken melody, but bring in shining piano runs for another contrast. Chris Potter can pick up his bass clarinet for some darker timbres; Dave Douglas’s trumpet sounds find with the mute. Add some disembodied guitar chords with heavy reverb and a heavy crescendo for more of the floating feel. Go nowhere far from the melody and the piano tinkling, but accomplish a fittingly out-of-body atmosphere. Call it “Lo’s Garden Suite”—a soothing break from the uptempo charts and tender trio ballads on this electro-acoustic jazz record. Lawn Chair Society represents the next wave of experimentation—it’s not far out, and all the musicians are bop guys. The creativity resides in the electronic acoustic. 

There’s such a process to it—a tweaking of knobs, the playful tug at the acoustically-intended mind of each instrument. But for all its electronic “where did that come from?” feeling, when the ethereal clears for a straight-ahead swing beat (walking bass, eights on the ride cymbal) to introduce Potter’s solo on “New Amsterdam”, everything clicks into place. This conceptual outing that blends techno beeps with acoustic bebop lines is strung together by a few electro-interludes and two large numbers. “Lo’s Garden Suite” and “Lawn Chairs (And Other Foreign Policy)” give the record a focus. Without these hints, the unified front, the thesis of the release would be missing. Lawn Chair Society makes a simple, staight-forward argument for the use of electronics in jazz.


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