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A Fireside Chat With David Weiss

By Published: February 7, 2003

DW: Yeah, it is weird, Fred. Actually, I had a scary experience with it recently. When we work with Freddie Hubbard and we drove to Boston and back last week, I guess he had read the review in Down Beat and he kept asking me about it and I wouldn't play it for him (laughing). So the whole way up we were, Sony is starting to reissue some of his crossover dates. So on the way up we were listening to them all and checking out the bonus tracks and seeing how the sound way and everything. On the way back, he was like, 'Alright, listen. Put your record on.' I was scared (laughing), but now I can listen to it. It is weird. Anytime you make a record, like that record, it was just a weird time. The band grew out of, I don't know, I was writing more and things weren't exactly expandable to octet. The twins, Marcus Strickland and E.J. Strickland, I started having sessions with them and playing with them. That is sort of how it works for me. I kind of hear a couple people that I like and I build a band around them and start writing for them. So the tunes I was writing kind of lent themselves more to that, kind of a sextet sound. It didn't really work for octet. They were not as dynamic. They were moodier. It is just a different vibe. It works with sextet. It works with those specific guys.

FJ: Marcus plays some killing tenor.

DW: Yeah, his new record is coming out too and it is killing.

FJ: And Craig Handy.

DW: I went to school with him and so have always collaborated together. We had a band in school together and we had a band when we first moved up here, but we certainly both moved in different directions. Musically, we think alike. It is just he is better than me (laughing), so he has certainly worked more in one certain aspect. But when things come up like that, he played alto in that band. He did it for a while. And as you can see, he is guesting on alto on the new Octet record too.

FJ: And Dwayne Burno.

DW: Dwayne is on everything. Dwayne is a founding member of the Octet, him and Myron and Xavier Davis. Those are the founding members of the group (New Jazz Composers Octet) and those are the writers. That is why the group was put together, so the four of us could write. I don't know how to put it without sounding too self-centered, but there is a certain type of thing I need from musicians. They need to have the harmonic knowledge of bebop and hard bop and all that stuff, but they still have to have a certain looseness and openness about it, so that anything can happen and those guys do it. There is a few others I guess, but that is why they are on all my records. They just seem to do it the best for me. It gets kind of rough when they are not around to get subs. There are a lot of good musicians out there, but these guys seem to be the most flexible. It is still a vibrant music. I still need guys who look at it that way, who try things and they are always experimenting even if it is within a certain context.

FJ: And Nasheet is on every record hitting store shelves these days.

DW: (Laughing) Yeah, that is a funny thing. When we put the band together, Nasheet could not buy a gig. Nobody appreciated Nasheet and even a couple of guys in the band. The drummer was the last chair we filled and we tried about five or six guys. And finally, we brought Nasheet in and to me, that was it, right away. Some of the other guys were not too sure, but I knew it was definitely him. It is democratic society unless I don't agree with you (laughing). So he was always around. I don't know what gig, I guess Jason's gig kind of, and Andrew Hill, between those two, I guess he started getting heard more. But he always brings that flexibility. You will never sound pat with him.

FJ: And Joe Chambers is featured on Walkin' the Line (Fresh Sound).

DW: The Chambers thing grew out of when we played with Freddie. I was a little hesitant to throw too much at Freddie. Not that he couldn't handle everything, but he likes his music a certain way. I know from who he has told me his favorite drummers are that he would want a more in the pocket drummer. Art Blakey and Philly Joe Jones are his favorite drummers. He wants somebody to expand upon that, but he wants somebody rooted in that. I always wanted to play with Joe Chambers and I actually have a gig, so we called him up and did it and the same with bringing Craig Handy in. Craig plays in a certain style that really works with Freddie's music. So we had a couple of ringers when we first did stuff with Freddie.

FJ: The growth is audible from the first record, First Steps into Reality (Fresh Sound), to this one.

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