Ezra Weiss: Get Happy (2007)
Pianist Ezra Weiss' third CD as a leader takes a bit of different path than his earlier outings. On hand once more are alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, tenorist Kelly Roberge and either Billy Hart or Jason Brown on drums, while new faces include bassist Corcoran Holt, trumpeter Kevin Louis and trombonists Andy Hunter or Andrae Murchison, as well as vocals on a few tracks. He also expands his repertoire with standards.
The punchy post-bop setting of "It's You Or No One features Roberge powered by the leader's driving piano. Samantha Grabler passionately sings "Blue Room in a tantalizing waltz setting, while Weiss plays "Get Happy as a campy stride miniature with a good bit of humor. He also transforms the often mundane "You'll Never Walk Alone into a spacious trio arrangement. His haunting treatment of the ballad "Once Upon a Time (from the obscure 1962 musical All American) incorporates pianist Bill Evans' "Peace Piece in its introduction and offers a stunning vocal by Heidi Krenn.
The originals are, for the most part, of equal merit. Weiss utilizes both Hunter and Roberge for his pensive, multi-faceted "For Heather," while Hart is showcased in the lush, bittersweet ballad "What I Can Never Say." When Weiss switches to electric piano, the CD loses its focus just a bit. The funky "Run Under the Fountain is a rather generic vocal vehicle, though the loping closer "Don't Need No Ticket (with Louis and Murchison) does get the show back on the road.
Track Listing: For Heather; Once Upon A Time; It's You Or No One; What I Can Never Say; Blue Room; Get Happy, You'll Never Walk Alone; He Loves and She Loves; Run Under the Fountain; Don't Need No Ticket.
Personnel: Ezra Weiss: piano, Rhodes (9, 10); Kelly Roberge: tenor saxophone (1, 2, 7, 8); Andy Hunter: trombone (1); Corcoran Holt: bass (1-5, 7-10); Jason Brown: drums (1, 2, 4, 7, 9, 10); Heidi Krenn: voice (2); Billy Hart: drums (3, 5, 8); Antonio Hart: alto sax (4); Samantha Grabler: voice (5); Elif Caglar: voice (9); Kevin Louis: trumpet (10); Andrae Murchison: trombone (10).
Record Label: Roark Records