Is the cosmos ready for another Evans-sent arranger? If the project under scrutiny is Naked in the Cosmos (Jazz ‘N Pulz), the answer is an unequivocal “Yes!” thanks to Kenny Werner’s initial foray into hard-driving, symphonic big-band jazz. With the highly responsive Brussels Jazz Orchestra as his palette, Werner paints the broadest canvas in his 26-year recording career. Werner’s talents as composer-arranger-pianist are spread over four originals and the standard “A Portrait of Jenny,” giving him maximum stretch-out room. What he does to fill an hour is typified by the varied title tune: a mysterioso, stringlike introduction from his synthesizer; building contrapuntal sectional layers, uncoiling the brass in a spiraling crescendo any symphony orchestra would be proud to duplicate, sailing along the Third Stream; and, tonally and atonally, picking up pithy solo statements. “Naked in the Cosmos” is a fully clothed orchestral showcase.
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