How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Don't start with the liner notes. If you do, you may be scared off from pianist/composer Jon Weber's Simple Complex. That would be a shame, because the disc is a joy to listen to, full of gripping tunes highlighted by a variety of delightful surprises. Delve too deeply into the liner notes, however, and it may soon appear that a PhD in mathematics is a prerequisite to placing the album in the player. Is there a more frightening way to begin a sentence than, "For a complete mathematical explanation..."?
Simple Complex is an apt title. The complexity so carefully elucidated in the notes is subsumed by the simple appeal of the music. Whether it's a sextet sizzler like "Hot Ice" or a cool duet ballad like "No More Words" (featuring Roy Hargrove delivering a wonderful performance on flugelhorn), Weber's compositions settle into undeniable grooves that belie the intricacy of their structures.
Paul McCandless' oboe solo on "While She's Dreaming" is a particular highlight, rendering a part another composer might have written for soprano saxophone a bit more exotic. Vocalists Alicia Reneé and Kurt Elling provide lovely wordless performances in "Is It Only Me?", the one track on the album that is perhaps best served by a quick peek at the liner notes before diving in. Throughout the disc, Weber's own playing is inventive and inviting. Indeed, all of the musicians on Simple Complex were in top form for these sessions—something made abundantly clear when it finally comes time to check out those notes. Weber is a serious creative force both as a player and a composer.
Track Listing: 1. Hot Ice
2. No More Words
3. Drastic Steps
4. Mister Kleckley
5. Simple Complex
6. While She's Dreaming
7. Is It Only Me?
9. Whatever You Say
10. 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.