Dave Weckl Band: Synergy
Spunkier than Spyro Gyra and more rock-oriented than the Yellowjackets, the Weckl Band is best when it gives in to its jazzier tendencies as on the cuts "Swunk," a fiery track that combines funk and bebop, and "Cape Fear," a sinister groover with a Turkish-like melody.
Weckl and company move dexterously through a variety of styles here, including smooth jazz, jazz-rock, funk, and even African grooves. Most of these 12 tracks are rooted in the diverse rhythms laid down by the drummer, but guitarist Buzz Feiten contributes a couple of melodic acoustic ballads ("A Simple Prayer" and "Where's My Paradise?"). Feiten also rocks out impressively on some of the faster tracks.
Saxophonist Brandon Fields is a nice addition to the Weckl band, and he particularly shines on the funkier tunes: "Wet Skin," which was inspired by James Brown, and Fields' own "Lucky Seven," a piece reminiscent of Tower of Power. Bassist Tommy Kennedy keeps pace with Weckl no easy task there. Keyboardist Jay Oliver relies a bit too heavily on electronics for my tastes, but this is a small gripe.
All things considered, Synergy delivers smart pop-jazz, some impressive fusion, and terrific drumming by the leader. The Dave Weckl Band has quickly become one of the more interesting outfits in contemporary jazz.
Record Label: Concord Music Group