Bob Bowen III (b), Dan Weiss (d)
Bar code: 84 27328 42085 3
This is the debut album of young German pianist Sebastian Weiss (currently with Blue Note recording artist Rodney Jones). Here he prsents himself with his own trio, featuring drummer Dan Weiss and bassist Bob Bowen. All tunes on this album are original compositions, influenced by a wide palette of jazz and other contemporary genres. In combining these diverse elements, Sebastian Weiss music creates new possibilities within the tradition of the jazz piano trio: new forms, new textures and a new division of roles. Strong playing and a communicative group performance add the finishing touches to Polaroid Memory.
"Since the innovations of Bill Evans back in the late 50s, the piano trio has become one of the most expressive formats for the creative musician. The pianist, bassist and drummer can interact in ways that work wonderfully on a smaller scale, but would become too cumbersome in a larger ensemble. It is within this resourceful convention that German pianist Sebastian Weiss presents his latest trio affair, Polaroid Memory.
All ten of the pieces are Weiss originals and each one manages to travel the road less taken. From the march tempo of the title track to the Cecil Taylor abstractions that mark Blues For a Brave Drummer, Weiss and his cohorts offer a fresh perspective on the piano trio format. Unusual for players of this age, Weiss, bassist Bob Bowen, and drummer Dan Weiss never engage in showy displays of technique just for the sake of thrills, instead they let the creative process develop naturally along the lines of the chart at hand.
Fresh and ambitious, Polaroid Memory is well worth a listen and it serves as a fine introduction to a talent on the rise.
By Chris Hovan (All About Jazz)
"Well, if you've been searching for the real thing in jazz, bend your ear! This has the musicianship of days gone by and a hope for the future. Great artistry will not be forgotten. For pianist Sebastian Weiss, bassist Bob Bowen, and drummer Dan Weiss, this "photo essay" is worthy of an art gallery. It may very well merit the "special edition" series.
In the first track, "Across the Water," Sebastian plays like a skier gliding across the ocean moving very briskly to an exciting destination. While that may not be the meaning of this track, the energy is high and he knows what beauty the piano provides. Dan's drum work provides a scenic backdrop to this piece.
Bob Bowen is doin' the thing on bass in "Shifting Views." I'm always grateful when I can't ignore the bass player. His support is a joyful work of art here. The title track opens like a dramatic piece to a movie and continues through to Sebastian's moving solo. If only ballets were choreographed to this instead of the same old classical fluff. Parts of this also remind me of a torrid tango, though that's not really what's going on. The tension built up by Dan and Bowen is fiery, but not frantic.
"Picture of Kerstin" is tender and pensive. Again, Sebastian emphasizes more than jazz. He's painting this picture for all listeners to "hear." His fellow musicians nod in solid agreement, while expressing themselves individually on the canvas. They follow up with the hip "Tioga 28" employing variance in rhythm and mood. A good intellectual track for those who like discussion with their music. It is deep without darkness and perfect for a PBS-type documentary.
"Blues For A Brave Drummer" is quite different from my expectation of a blues. This is a mild temperament burner. Rapid and adventurous, this is Dan's show, but he's got company who enhances his every move. It's like they're playing musical basketball, but it's a cooperative court. All score high points in a well-played game. For contrast, "In the Fading Light" is perhaps a romantic journey through twilight. This isn't flowers and candy, but shadows and silhouettes. The trio set the stage for a dance subject to your own interpretation. Sebastian sets quite a mood, as Dan and Bowen pull you in. Dan plays like a chameleon, ready to change and move in whatever direction his bandmates fly.
"Nonsense Conversation" is suitably titled, as it doesn't play around. It's quick, and so very to the point. The trio gives us a "Change of Pace," an energetic piece, light and true to its title, with a variety of textures. It builds up, smooths out and fires back. The trio plays heartily and doesn't compromise the taste level of the music. They keep this pace strong throughout as it's one of the longer tracks included. While pictures record the past, Sebastian, Bob and Dan close out with a futuristic photo in "Things to Come." Perhaps it's to let us know that there's so much more to deliver.
Tracks are relatively short, but full. This is quite different from the work I'd heard from them with Michael Aarons, and that's not surprising. What's really nice is that this is a great work as well. It's always refreshing when projects don't lose quality in the midst of change and variety.
Make no mistake that the seriousness and talent of these musicians make this a mandatory CD for serious jazz folk."
- Denai Burbank (www.jazzreview.com)
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