Monday, April 14, 2014

Dan Weiss - Fourteen (Pi Recordings, 2014)

Drummer and composer Dan Weiss has always had an ambitious streak, but this album takes matters to a whole new level. This is a seven movement suite for a fourteen piece large ensemble with a heady mixture of composed and improvised sections. What is particularly interesting is how he mixes voice as a lead instrument on occasion, with the singers soloing as if they were a trumpet or saxophone. Voices blend, merge and overlap, making for a hypnotic addition to the musical breadth and width. The music builds texture from sections of solo instrumentation all the way up to full band. He has a heavy hitting crew of co-conspirators including Miles Okazaki on guitar, Matt Mitchell on piano, organ and glockenspiel, along with sections of brass, saxophones and bass. Music can develop from a small node of an idea: blooming from spacious instrument like piano which will then grow fractally as the voices build in and then saxophones and electric guitar add tension and texture before the rest of the band is folded in to demonstrate the  whole weight of the ensemble. The music itself builds organically, and draws not just from jazz but from  East Asian music, rock, dub and beyond making for contrasts in states of mind, feeling and temper. It takes some patience and multiple spins  to get the full effect of the music, but it is an audacious project that should appeal to forward thinking music fans. Fourteen -

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