Saturday, June 26, 2010

David Weiss and Point of Departure - Snuck In (Sunnyside, 2010)

To name your band after one of the defining albums of modern jazz raises the stakes for success quite high. Fortunately trumpeter David Weiss and his band Point of Departure (presumably named after the 1964 Blue Note masterpiece by pianist and composer Andrew Hill) are more than up to the task. Point of Departure is composed of J.D. Allen on tenor sax, Nir Felder on guitar, Matt Clohesy on bass and Jamire Williams on drums. The band echoes the wonderful inside/outside albums that Blue Note released in the mid 1960's by the likes of Eric Dolphy, Bobby Hutcherson and Sam Rivers, and takes the music into the modern age with class and dignity. Recorded live at the Jazz Standard in New York City in 2008, the music is very powerful, with both the ensemble playing and the solos reach for high levels of creativity. The album opens with "I Have a Dream" which features strong saxophone and great drum work, followed by probing guitar over bass and drums. Felder has a interesting tone which flows like a neon stream before giving way to dramatic exchange of ideas between punchy trumpet and strong saxophone. Williams deft drum work is the key, he is constantly pulling and flexing the fabric of the music, and altering the space and time of the performances. "Black Comedy" has a strong and urgent melody with muscular saxophone and drums leading the charge. Weiss enters like a prize-fighter, with jabbing and throbbing and driving the music forward. Clocking in at nearly twenty minutes in length, the epic "Number 4" again features wonderful dialogue between Allen and Williams who really lock in and inspire each other to flights of musical daring. The leader slows the pace a bit in the middle with some smeared trumpet accents, before rebuilding fast and strong. Willams takes a well earned solo and ushers the punchy melody back for the finale. "Erato" slows the pace to a thoughtful medium tempo simmer, and Allen takes advantage by crafting a patient and deep solo. There is a very nice interlude here for guitar and drums with Williams demonstrating deft brushwork, which Felder probes around and through. Spirited full band interplay ushers in "Snuck In," the final track on the album. Weiss takes a fast and powerful solo buoyed by excellent drumming, before Allen takes the mantle with an excellent showpiece of his own. This was a very exciting and continually enjoyable album of modern jazz. The group takes their inspiration from the innovators of the past, but it is clear that their sound is their own and their musical mission is finely crafted and honed to a beautiful edge. Snuck In - amazon.com

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