Born in Brooklyn, NY on November 19, 1951 and then growing up in Oceanside, Long Island, Kenny began playing and performing at a young age, first recording on television at the age of 11. Although he studied classical piano as a child, he enjoyed playing anything he heard on the radio. In high school and his first years of college he attended the Manhattan School of Music as a classical piano major.
His natural instinct for improvisation led Kenny to the Berklee School of Music in 1970. There he sought tutelage of the renowned piano teacher Madame Chaloff.
From Boston, Kenny traveled to Brazil with the saxophonist Victor Assis Brasil. There he met Victor's twin brother, Brazilian pianist Joao Assis Brasil. His studies with Joao would lead to the creation of Effortless Mastery.
Kenny started his own trio in 1981 with drummer Tom Rainey and bassist Ratzo Harris. The Kenny Werner Trio matured for fourteen years, touring in America and Europe and recording four albums along the way.