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
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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