David Weiss (tp), Steve Davis (tb), Myron Walden (as), Marcus Strickland (ts), Craig Handy (ts), Norbert Stachel (b-cl), Xavier Davis (p), Dwayne Burno (b), E.J. Strickland (d), Nasheet Waits (d)
Bar code: 8427328422048
'The Mirror' is Weiss' second date as a leader for the Fresh Sound New Talent label. It finds the trumpeter drawing inspiration from great filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick, and particularly Russian Andrei Tarkovsky, as he puts his sextet through their paces on a set of heady bop-infused tunes.Tracklisting:
"The sextet and octet of David Weiss hit hard on his second Fresh Sound New Talent album, The Mirror. This album is a mixture of lyrical soloists, beautiful arrangements, and a lot of great bop. The outcome is a musical masterpiece which impacts the mind, never wanting the music to end. The trumpeter/composer works wonders on each song. The songs were inspired by the works of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. Though the songs werent made specifically for the movie, it did help Weiss to create magic.
The album is divided by the first five tracks as a sextet and the final two as an octet. The opening track, Stalker, is an uptempo number with fiery tunes. It then leads into the title track, The Mirror, which is a midtempo tune with great solos. These first two tracks set the flavor for the rest of the album. The mood then begins to change a bit on the last two tracks, as the New Jazz Composers Octet is led by Weiss. The trombone of Steve Davis and the bass clarinet of Norbet Stachel are added to create the full sound of the octet. The first track for the octet is Love Letter To One Not Yet Met. It is an emotional and lyrical experience that is held on with casual swing. The final track, Mr. Jin, is another for the octet. It is a straightforward swing with a big band sound.
This album is filled with great tunes and great solos. It is intelligently put together and lyrical in every sense. Weiss takes his time and plays the music in a manor that is actually heard and felt by the listener. Its versatility and musical expertise make this album pure enjoyment."
-Erica I. Feliciano, JazzReview.com
"Trumpeter David Weiss continues his award-winning ways and stretches the boundaries of his trumpeting skills with THE MIRROR. Inspired by the works of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, Weiss pieces relate to images and emotional textures and his versatile storytelling contains a combination of dynamics, color and moods.
As the leader of the New Jazz Composers Octet, David Weiss has built a solid reputation for his ability to evoke memorable performance from his sextet Xavier Davis, Marcus Strickland, Myron Walden, Dwayne Burno and EJ Strickland as Weiss writes for them such expressive songs as Stalker, The Mirror Love Letter To One Not Yet Met, and Mr. Jin. With guest artists Nasheet Waits on drums, Craig Handy on tenor sax, Steve Davis on trombone and Norbert Stachel on bari sax and bass clarinet, this set will blow you away. "
-Paula Edelstein, JazzUSA.com
"One of the years last releases and one of its very best. Weiss is the New York trumpeter-arranger-composer who co-leads the brilliant New Jazz Composers Octet and who, more than anyone, is helping Freddie Hubbard, long laid low with lip trouble, get back into action. This is the follow-up to 2001s Breathing Room and features the same sextet line-up (with Myron substituted for Handy) on all but the last two tracks, which have the three extra horns.
The compositions and especially the colourful, warm, often pedal-point punctuated arrangements show how rapidly Weiss is maturing. His writing may well be initially inspired by what Wayne Shorter was doing for Miles in the mid 60s, but it is totally contemporary in its expansion of that eras unfinished business. And his two scores for the larger line-up are exceptional. His own sombre ballad, Love Letter to One Not Yet Met, shows his classical training and features poignant solos from the ever-improving Weiss and the wondrous Xavier Davis, while the closing Mr Jin by Shorter himself, is one of the most satisfying scores on recent record.
Weiss says how inspired hes been by the work of the Russian film director, Andres Tarkovsky and the moods and colours he creates. The outstanding work on this album is The Mirror which he dedicates to Tarkovsky. The emotional depth of the scoring and the solos (especially those by Waldon, surely one of todays most outstanding altoists and Strickland, whose best recorded work this is) make it really something special. So is the whole album. Watch for Weiss. Hes a major new talent. One of my 2004 Top Three CDs."
-Tony Hall, Jazzwise
"The ability to create music that is intellectually provocative and eminently approachable is a challenge to which many artists aspire but relatively few manage to succeed. Trumpeter Davis Weiss has certainly had the opportunity to explore both sides of the equation. In high demand over the past decade, he has worked with artists including Bob Belden, Freddie Hubbard and Tom Harrell in capacities involving performance, arrangement and transcription. But it has only been since his '01 début as a leader, Breathing Room, that he has emerged as a composer and bandleader of significance.
Now with The Mirror, he demonstrates that Breathing Room was no fluke as he serves up a programme marking him as one of the more cerebral yet visceral writers to arise in recent years. With an album that is heady in both senses of the wordintelligent and exhilaratingWeiss emerges as one of the finest artists to mine the post bop arena, with an ability to develop longer-form composition that is clearly indebted to Wayne Shorter. Not since Dave Douglas rose to prominence in the mid-'90s has a trumpet player come along with such a perfect combination of technical prowess, unerring instinct for captivating melody, harmony and counterpoint, and sheer emotional force. A masterpiece by any definition, The Mirror deserves a place high in most listeners' top ten lists for '04 for its ability to engage more than just the ears; Weiss' compositions are remarkably visual as well.
This is no surprise, given that Weiss has worked heavily as a freelance artist for stage and screen, citing Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky as having a profound influence on his work. Like a good filmmaker, Weiss views his compositions and his record as having a larger underlying arc. The Stalker may alternate between an odd-metered tempestuous vamp and a hard-swinging middle section, but it is when placed beside the more relaxed and harmonically rich title track, that a musical story begins to come forward. Weiss' themes may be deep and complicated, but they unravel at a pace that ensures they remain fresh in the mind long after their time has passed.
Utilizing two ensemblesa sextet for the first five pieces and an octet for the remaining two, Weiss has chosen his players well. Especially notable are alto saxophonist Myron Walden, still in his early 30s and already well-established with a robust tone and boldly lyrical style; and pianist Xavier Davis, who provides rich accompaniment, especially to Weiss, who never lets technical concerns get in the way of structural and evocative integrity in his solos.
Along with five original compositions, Weiss features a piece by pianist Kevin Hays and, more importantly, closes the album with an octet version of Wayne Shorter's Mr. Jin, bringing a deeper sense of counterpoint to the tune without losing its innate swing. A fitting homage that shows just how far he has come, Weiss draws a strong line between the past and present, The Mirror being the perfect analogy for self-examination without self-absorption."
-John Kelman, All About Jazz
"Trumpeter David Weiss is rejuvenating mainstream jazz with the tough work ethic and clarity of purpose that his hard bop predecessors brought to the Blue Note label throughout the sixties. Kind of a hard bop Dave Douglas, Weiss's specialty as a composer is stretching the boundaries of the genre without straying too far from the mainstream.
On The Mirror, Weiss takes a respite from his well-received New Jazz Composer's Octet to create a set of songs inspired by the works of Russian filmmakers like Andrei Tarkovsky. While his inspiration may be a bit esoteric for most listeners, the songs here are more a return to sounds of his 2001 release Breathing Room than they are an exercise in impressionistic jazz.
With the supporting cast of Breathing Room accounted for, The Mirror brims with energy and offers a multi-textured experience on the strengths of tenors Marcus Strickland and Craig Handy, as well as altoist Myron Walden. The opening track, Stalker, is representative of Weiss's sound by this time, featuring slightly odd tempos and plenty of room for the soloists to stretch out. The song is good fun, with its thrumming three-note vamp powered by Strickland and Handy and the swift right hand of Xavier Davis. After years working together, Davis, bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer E.J. Strickland are operating on a telepathic level, and it's always a pleasure to hear them work within the Weiss architecture.
There's much to enjoy on The Mirror, and most of it hinges upon individual talent. The fleet Hubbard-like playing of Weiss on The Mirror. The wide range of tones employed by Walden on The Sacrifice. The bass clarinet of Norbert Stachel adding a likeable postmodern feel to Love Letter To One Not Yet Met. But there's a sameness to Weiss's compositions (he leans quite heavily on 3/8 time throughout all his recordings) and more often than not the parts are more memorable than the whole. In fact, on mid-to-downtempo compositions like The Mirror and Nostalghia [sic], the playing seems to meander, hoping to latch onto a passing melody that never arrives.
The closer Mr. Jin is the best track on The Mirror, with its somber intro, doubled up horn passages, funky double time, and the soulful tones of Strickland. Of all the songs on The Mirror, it offers the most memorable arrangement by Weiss. But I'm guessing that's not quite what he was shooting for, considering that Mr. Jin is a Wayne Shorter composition."
-Ken Hohman, All About Jazz
"With big band arrangements, David Weiss's sextet and octet stretch the boundaries of hard bop. Solid in their caricature, they romp and stomp with clarity of purpose. The trumpeter's original compositions build an intense dramatic spirit, while leaving much room for soloist improvisation.
The leader's trumpet soars lyrically with passion. He imposes a storyline on each piece. Stalker moves stealthily in the shadows with dramatic tension, while Nostalghia wanders aimlessly along familiar shores. One places the listener in tight situations, while the other opens up a world of opportunity. Weiss opens up on this album, too, letting his trumpet speak freely of the sights and sounds in the world around us.
Myron Walden, Marcus Strickland, and Xavier Davis provide substantial improvised solos to complement the trumpeter in his quest to create distinct impressions. The Mirror leaves room for some serious contemplation, while The Sacrifice floats gently on clouds of relaxed joy. Wayne Shorter's Mr. Jin gives the trumpeter a place to vacation. Exotic and laid back, the piece makes a positive statement about our outlook. The future should always look so bright.
Weiss paints each scene with a different mood. His versatile trumpet and cohesive band allow him to transcribe his thoughts into music. We, in turn, are free to interpret naturally. Recommended, the album provides a wide palette of colors for our enquiring minds."
-Jim Santella, All About Jazz
"From exalted elder statesman to stellar releases by a couple of newer talents -- David Weiss and Jacob Young -- both of whom are poised to emerge as important voices in the next generation of jazz.
'The Mirror' is Weiss' second date as a leader for the Fresh Sound New Talent label. It finds the trumpeter drawing inspiration from great filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick, and particularly Russian Andrei Tarkovsky, as he puts his sextet through their paces on a set of heady bop-infused tunes.
Taking full advantage of the fact that this is his working group, Weiss has crafted tunes that accentuate the individual and collective strengths of the aggregate as they roar like a larger ensemble one moment and swing with all of the vigor of a small one the next.
Particularly noteworthy is the menace of 'The Stalker,' the title track's pensive contemplation, the breezy gait of 'Our Trip,' and an updating of the Wayne Shorter gem 'Mr. Jin.'
Young's debut for ECM, 'Evening Falls,' is a masterpiece of subtlety and nuance, imbued with an unmistakable passion and understated energy that immediately beckons the listener with its charm as it holds you rapt until the last notes ring out.
Playing both acoustic and electric guitars, Young is joined on the front line by trumpet and bass clarinet, with the end result being voicings that are intriguing, sumptuous and beautifully showcased throughout the nine original tunes presented.
Immaculately produced, this disc is a quintessential example of the fabled 'ECM sound,' where sonic brilliance is tempered by a liberal yet judicious use of space. And while the music shimmers and glistens with beauty as the players make it all sound easy, rest assured there is plenty to sink your ears, mind and heart into.
This is recommended listening of the highest order."
-James Lamperetta, The Saratogian
"Stills from the film Stalker, by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, decorate the cover of the second album from trumpeter David Weiss; and the film also lends its title to the first and most compelling track on the disc. Perhaps wisely, Weiss refrains from the otherwise obvious choice of using it for the album title as wellprobably the idea of seeing all those CD spines with David Weiss - Stalker on them didnt seem so appealingchoosing instead the title of another Tarkovsky film and the second track, The Mirror. Equally portentous Tarkovsky titles grace two other Weiss compositions, Nostalghia [sic] and The Sacrifice; Kevin Hays Our Trip, a final Weiss creation, Love Letter to One Not Yet Met, and Wayne Shorters Mr. Jin round out the set.
Weiss writing is always intelligent, often clever, but never strays too far from slightly more exotic variations on the hard bop style like those turned in by artists such as Freddie Hubbard and Wayne Shorterclearly two of Weiss bigger musical influences. The trumpeter is also a polished soloist, creating a number of nice moments, like his rhythmic foreshadowing of the transition to swing in his solo on Stalker, but he shines most in his arrangements, especially when the band expands to an octet for the final two tracks. The ballad Love Letter to One Not Yet Met, with the octet, is the best example of his ensemble writing and provides the occasion for some of his best trumpet playing on the record as well.
The albums sense of unity also comes from the fairly distinctive voices of Weiss sidemen. Throughout the first five pieces, E.J. Stricklands quirky, energetic drumming keeps things interesting and pushes the soloists along, filling out the rhythmic space while pianist Xavier Davis and bassist Dwayne Burno often play set rhythmic figures. You miss him a bit when a more restrained Nasheet Waits replaces him on drums for the final two pieces. Davis has an effective understated solo style and E.J.s twin brother Marcus on tenor sax stretches out nicely, most notably in an enjoyably spacey solo on Stalker. The formidable Myron Walden on alto rounds out the front line and provides some of the best improvisations on the record. Walden has a winning way of taking whatever musical fragment he finds lying around and repeating, extending, developing it, gradually building with it, in a way reminiscent of some Sonny Rollins solos.
At the February 8th CD release party at Jazz Standard, the full sextet from the recording was present and the band threw a bit of caution to the windthe lively rhythmic interplay between Strickland, Davis, and Burno was in higher relief and the frontline was a bit more daring in their improvisations. As on the record, Stalker (here the finale) inspired the musicians best efforts, benefiting from increased drama as the band dropped the dynamic level sharply for the entrance of each new soloist, allowing some extra anticipation to build.
Walden stole the show even more thoroughly hereon the song Getaway, from Weiss earlier Breathing Room, he began slowly, with sustained notes, biting on the reed to produce not frantic squeals (à la John Zorn), but soft, almost anguished, cries. After drawing out this eerily quiet beginning, as the tension mounted with the rhythm section pressing on underneath, Walden began gradually building to an impassioned statement that drew shouts of approval from the audience."
All About Jazz (New York Edition)
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