Intricate compositions often provide the best substrate for complex and satisfying improvisation. This holds true for the New Jazz Composer's Octet's The Turning Gate, which includes five short compositions and one long suite made up of six movements. Each piece serves as a vehicle for group interplay and interpretation, and as a platform for one or two of the musicians to exhibit their improvisational skills during individual solos. The six-movement Faith Suite" (the last two movements appear first, out of order, then the first four come in a row) is the centerpiece of the album. Composed by ...read more
From the first track on The Turning Gate, it's obvious that the New Jazz Composers Octet has spent considerable quality time together since their founding in 1996. The sheer number of hours spent writing, arranging, and playing material has strengthened this fresh ensemble into a superior example of jazz excellence. With each member working at the top of their game, the NJCO balances cohesion and freedom to create a listening experience that is always satisfying and often transcendent. The Turning Point deals with several long-form compositions and a multi-section suite; all of them are classy, swinging, and edgy. ...read more
Good support players can add color and depth to the vision of almost any artist; the right supporting cast can help a leader move in innumerable creative directions--witness the many phases of Dave Douglas. But what if a support player has a vision to share with the world? That was trumpeter David Weiss' motivation for founding the New Jazz Composer's Octet in 1999. The Turning Gate should make liner note readers--and, hopefully, everybody else--sit up and take notice.
Although NJCO members have recorded under their own names, primary fame for the current lineup comes from a lengthy list of acclaimed ...read more
Trumpeter, composer, arranger and bandleader David Weiss has been a fixture on the New York scene since returning to the city of his birth after graduating from North Texas State. Leader of the long-running New Jazz Composers Octet, Weiss continues to evolve.The Turning Gate, the third album from the NJCO, though the first under the Motema Music label, proves that Weiss has big and excellent ears--not just in terms of his own playing and composing but in providing an outlet for some of the best talent available in this town or anywhere. Offering well-constructed original ... read more
Rather than going with the common straight-ahead formula of head-solos-head, the New Jazz Composers Octet prefers ensemble counterpoint in which agreed-upon changes add a sense of the exotic. Shifting harmonies and juxtaposed meters combine with the artists’ natural rhythmic swing and reverence for tonal purity. David Weiss’ title track, for example, opens with the kinds of dissonance that would suitably accompany a film’s more dramatic scenes. Then, between fierce, bebop-derived solos, the octet continues to push their ensemble sound forward as one tight unit. With the trumpet on top, tenors and trombones in the middle, and baritone sax with bass ...read more
From the sound of it, the future of the large group ensemble is clearly in good hands with the New Jazz Composers Octet, a combination of old school horns and creative young jazz musicians. The NJCO is carving out a name for itself by paying respect to names such as Lee Morgan, Freddy Hubbard, and Joe Henderson through interesting compositional and arranging skills.
The New York based octet has composed and performed together for over five years, with a common aspiration to play adventurous, challenging, and modern music. Walkin’ the Line is their second release, featuring up-and-coming cats such as ...read more
Eight guys are a lot to fit on the little stage at Joe’s Pub. But trumpeter David Weiss and his crew squeezed in cozily last month for their CD release party. The New Jazz Composers Octet’s second disc, Walkin’ The Line, venerates a bygone era of big bands, a time when torrents of jazz streaming like freight trains out of horns was the order of the day. But while those Swing-era bands played with an unending, lindy- hopping jubilance, this young octet adds whispers of dusk to the seven tracks on their new disc including an arrangement of Chick Corea’s ...read more
Before appraising the music, a word about the concept — and what a wonderful one it is, a group of young Jazz musicians coming together to nurture their skills as composers and explore their ever–widening musical capabilities. The NJCO, formed in 1996 by trumpeter David Weiss, provides the pathway over which these aspiring writers are able to move toward their goal, and First Steps into Reality (an entry in Fresh Sound’s admirable “new talent” series) represents their first recorded excursion along that thoroughfare. Although these are merely first steps, no one stumbles; these (comparatively) unseasoned essayists have plenty to say, ...read more
Upon hearing pianist Xavier Davis’s First Steps into Reality," which opens this album and provides its title, some might voice familiar objections. Wait, these guys play tradition-bound hard bop and wear jackets and ties. It’s just another crop of Young Lions. Nothin’ new about it." Well, keep listening. David Weiss, founder, leader, and trumpeter of The New Jazz Composers Octet, is onto something, and it’s far more than a neocon nostalgia trip.Compositionally speaking, Xavier Davis and alto saxophonist Myron Walden are the stars here. Walden pens the mellow yet challenging I’ll Always Love You" and the multilayered Untitled ...read more
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