Cellar Live: Cory Weeds & Ross Taggart
For Canadians, it sure is a good time to be a jazz fan. Much of the reason can be attributed to Cory Weeds; he owns a popular Vancouver venue called the Jazz Cellar, runs record label Cellar Live andon his "down time"plays the tenor sax in his own ensemble.
On Everything's Coming Up Weeds, the jazz mogul leads a quintet of Jim Rotondi (trumpet), Ross Taggart (piano), John Webber (bass) and Willie Jones III (drums). The group tackles nine selections; eight of which are originals from Weeds, Rotondi or Taggart. They succeed in creating a club-like atmosphere with their playing, whichaccording to Weeds' liner noteswas fine-tuned during an engagement at Smalls. With only two ballads on the nine-song program, the majority of the music swings with a fiery up-tempo bravado that recalls some of the best work of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. The quintet starts off most of the cuts with a fairly complex arrangement for the two horns before spotlights for each of the soloists.
Weeds proved to be a smart record-label owner when he decided to hire himself to record an album. He's in fine form throughout and is undoubtedly motivated by Rotondi. The trumpeter shines on his own composition: the Latin-tinged "Biru Kirusai."
Presenting Ross Taggart marks the pianist's debut as a leader. However, you won't hear any first-day jitters. He performs with the confidence and skill of a player with dozens of records under his belt. Joined by bassist Ken Lister and drummer Craig Scott, Taggart displays a nimbleness that recalls Vince Guaraldi, especially on the trio's laid-back, swinging reading of "Never Let Me Go." Taggart penned five of the nine selections, including the whimsical and bouncy "Ella's Walk," which can also be heard on Everything's Coming Up Weeds. Taggart really hits his stride on the album's four ballads, three of which he wrote. The other is a somewhat melancholy solo reading of Duke Ellington's "Lady of the Lavender Mist," which closes the program. Before that, however, the trio finds itself in full swing on two lively covers: Oscar Peterson's "Hogtown Blues" and an unconventionally up-tempo version of "There Is No Greater Love."
Tracks and Personnel
Everything's Coming Up Weeds
Tracks: BB's Blue Blues; Biru Kirusai; Ella's Walk; Little Unknown One; I've Never Been in Love Before; Bailin' On You; 323 Shuter; Cyclaman; The Pour.
Personnel: Cory Weeds: tenor saxophone; Jim Rotundi: trumpet; Ross Taggart: piano; John Webber: acoustic bass; Willie Jones III: drums.
Presenting Ross Taggart
Tracks: Ella's Walk; Lament For Someone; Never Let Me Go; Tanara; Mr. Randle; February; Hogtown Blues; There Is No Greater Love: Lady Of The Lavender Mist.
Personnel: Ross Taggart: piano; Ken Lister: bass; Craig Scott: drums.