Walt Weiskopf: Overdrive (2014)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
After a string of well-received dates on the Criss Cross imprint, and a one-off for the Capri label, tenor saxophonist Walt Weiskopf arrives at Posi-Tone with this pleasing sextet date. The music on Overdrive is all original, save for the penultimately-placed cover of Michel Legrand's "What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?," and it affirms Weiskopf's commitment to (mostly) high energy, no-nonsense jazz.
With saxophone, vibraphone, guitar, piano, bass, and drums, this band can be looked at from two different angles: It's a saxophone-fronted group with an expanded rhythm section, but it's also an outfit with a saxophone-vibraphone-guitar front line and a standard piano trio rhythm section. It functions both ways, but the latter scenario, which generates the most heat, is the primary mode of operation for this band.
Overdrive hits most of the stylistic targets that listeners have come to expect from modern jazz recordings. Weiskopf locks in with vibraphonist Behn Gillece as the impressive-and-angular "Like Mike" unfolds; he visits in on the blues in Coltrane-esque fashion during "Night Vision"; he delivers a reflective ballad in the form of "Jewel And A Flower,"; and he works the funky-and-choppy angle on the title track. Weiskopf also shows himself to be an exciting and tireless soloist on numbers like the burning "Four Horsemen," but he's hardly the only soloist of note on this date. Gillece gets ample space to cut loose, guitarist Yotam Silberstein contributes a delightfully devious solo on "Overdrive," and pianist Peter Zak shines on the peppy "Midwinter Night's Dream."
While Weiskopf covers ground that's often tread upon, he does so in his own way, and his music still offers plenty of surprises. The aforementioned soloists throw curveballs into the mix, "Like Mike" takes a surprising loping swing turn during its final minutes, and "What Are Your Doing The Rest Of Your Life?" is streamlined, metrically altered, and stripped of sentimentality. This is music that meets and defies expectations all at once.
Track Listing: The Path Is Narrow; Like Mike; Jewel And A Flower; Night Vision; Overdrive; Waltz For Dad; Four Horsemen; Midwinter Night's Dream; What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?; No Biz.
Personnel: Walt Weiskopf:tenor saxophone; Behn Gillece: vibraphone; Yotam Silberstein: guitar; Peter Zak: piano; David Wong: bass; Donald Edwards: drums.
Record Label: Posi-Tone Records
Style: Modern Jazz