Ezra Weiss: Persephone (2005)
Ezra Weiss says that he wrote the music for Persephone during a "depressed, cynical point in his life, but the end result came out "more uplifting than he had expected. The parallel muses of sorrow and joy played their roles well. The album has a fine balance, the brighter tunes bringing in a surge of joy, the darker ones not clouding the horizon but revealing some fine material that draws the listener into its pith. The latter trait is strongly pronounced on "Persephone, a waltz that gets its sinew from the tapestry woven by Michael Philip Mossman on flugelhorn, Antonio Hart on flute, and Kelly Roberge on clarinet. While these three daub the deeper hues, Weiss infuses a lighter dynamic on the piano, but the reeds are what provide the prominent impression on this tune, which grows with each listen.
The blues may underline "Capricorn, but the horns simmer it in bop. Roberge is sturdy and mines a lore of ideas in the surge, leaving the gauge open for Mossman, who shoots fleet bolts into the air, then twists his notes, making every phrase a live wire. Weiss brings in a happy node, his touch lithe and bouncing, urged on by drummer Jason Brown. The lush opening of Spring is the board for Antonio Hart, who is in perfect shape, as he is on his other solos, at first laying down the melodic line, then changing the direction subtly and finally biting in and carving an invigorating path that pulses with passion. Weiss, on the other hand, brings in a lambent flow that fleshes out the body, before the unison lines of the horns and the crish of Billy Hart's cymbals wrap the tune in a compelling, yet tender cloak.
Track Listing: Lord Give Me Wings; Rise and Fall; Family Song; Winter Machine; The Dancer; Capricorn; Persephone; Laugh at Yourself; Spring.
Personnel: Ezra Weiss: piano; Michael Philip Mossman: trumpet, flugelhorn; Antonio Hart: alto saxophone, flute; Kelly Roberge: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Leon Lee Dorsey: bass; Billy Hart: drums (1,4,5,7,9); Jason Brown: drums (2,3,6,8).
Record Label: Umoja Productions