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Jon Weber: Simple Complex (2004)

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Jon Weber: Simple Complex No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Released in April, Simple Complex is pianist Jon Weber's second album, presenting ten original compositions in a lengthy session. Originally a self-taught child prodigy on piano, Weber has been writing and performing in the Chicago area. His songs reflect a love of the post bop pianists like Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul. The use of the word complex in the title accurately reflects his frequent change of time signatures and arrangements. The tracks are presented as hard bop blowing sessions or as more exotic ballads.

What really makes this album work is the important friends that have been rounded up to help out (e.g. Gary Burton, Roy Hargrove, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Eric Alexander, Diego Urcola, Paul McCandless, Avishai Cohen and several more). The bop numbers, such as "Hot Ice," "Drastic Steps," or the title tune, have the melody followed by either Alexander's sinewy tenor sax or Urcola's hot trumpet seeking to take it higher.

On a first listen, I didn't hear a great deal of the piano featured on these tunes, other than the mandatory solos and comping. The duet of Weber and flugelhornist Hargrove on "No More Words" is indeed a beauty with no other distractions. Burton makes his entrance on "Mister Kleckley" and appears on four compositions displaying his virtuosity on vibes as well as a distinct lyrical quality. Paul McCandless' guest shot on "While She's Dreaming" effectively turns this ballad into a mood piece in which the oboe makes a most attractive statement. "Is It Really Me?" has a distinct Indian flavor with the addition of tabla, tambura and sitar. Drummer/percussionist Mark Walker really heats up the latter compositions with a driving Latin jazz pulse. Of the up-tempo numbers, I was most attracted to the closer "Triska Deka," which teams Burton, Urcola, Alexander and the rhythm section for a 13/8 time signature send-off.

Track Listing: Hot Ice, No More Words, Drastic Steps, Mister Kleckley, Simple Complex, While's She's Dreaming, Is It Only Me?, Jolie, Whatever You Say, Triska Deka.

Personnel: Jon Weber, piano; Diego Urcola or Roy Hargrove,trumpet/flugelhorn; Eric Alexander, tenor sax; Avishai Cohen, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Peter Washington, Matt Clohesy,acoustic bass or John Ovnik,electric bass; John Moulder,guitar; Mark Walker, drums, percussion; Jonas Johansen, drums, pandeiro; Ruben Alvarez,timables; Paul McCandless,oboe; Gary Burton, vibraphone; John Ovnik, sitar; Siri Sonty,tambura; Kalman Pathak,tabla;

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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