In 1966, Mark Weinstein was a member of Eddie Palmieri's La Perfecta Orquesta...as a trombonist. In order to get a summer-long gig, Weinstein trained himself to become a flutist and it worked. Since then he has not looked back.
On Straight No Chaser, Weinstein conjures up a change of direction from his previous three albums. On Con Alma (Jazzheads, 2007), Cuban Roots (Bomba, 2006), and Algo Mas (Jazzheads, 2005), Weinstein was in full tilt Latin jazz mode with musicians including Romero Lubambo and Pedro Martinez. On O Nosso Amor (Jazzheads, 2006), the flutist showed his affinity for Brazilian music.
Straight, No Chaser is clearly a return to mainstream jazz, North American-style. What is most noticeable is the change of format, with the flutist now accompanied by a trio of veteransguitarist Dave Stryker, bassist Ed Howard, and drummer Victor Lewis. The tunes include an attractive mix of originals, jazz standards, and two from the Great American Songbook.
On Weinstein's "Blues for Janice," the melody line also gets a pick-up by Stryker, who contributes a Wes Montgomery-like solo. The Matt Dennis/Thomas Adair "Violets For You Furs," an overlooked standard, is given a refurbished ballad look which recalls the Herbie Mann-Bill Evans album Nirvana (Atlantic, 1961), despite the lack of piano on this date. In addition to tunes from Stryker and Weinstein, there are some intelligent performances of standards like Bronislaw Kaper's "Invitiation" (another reference to Herbie Mann's smoky flute), as well as a cover of Thelonious Monk's classic title tune.
Straight, No Chaser represents an impressive return to mainstream jazz from the versatile Mark Weinstein.
Personnel: Mark Weinstein: flutes; Dave Stryker: guitars; Ed Howard: bass; Victor Lewis: drums.