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The Five A.M. Strut
starts off with an unruly bang with "Symmetric," ironically named because the music is anything but. Oregon native Ezra Weiss begins his recital of all original tunes with an explosion of sound. Taking full advantage of the tethered freedom offered jazz by the second great Miles Davis Quintet, Mr. Weiss aggressively addresses the hard bop/post bop paradox with confidence and finesse.
This is the assertive spirit, characteristic of the youthful Weiss, which permeates this recording. It also helps that the leader surrounds himself with seasoned and younger artists in support of this project. On one hand, he employees veterans drummer Billy Hart and alto saxophonist Antonio Hart and newcomers trumpeter Leon Lee Dorsy and tenorist Kelly Roberge.
Amongst his straight-ahead offerings, Weiss includes a couple of ringers for school. "The Clown Feature" was written for a student circus and sounds a bit like a klezmer band gone wrong. It might be the most distinctive piece on the recording, alone making the disc worth checking out, but Weiss’ informed sense of humor shows up on the next piece, the title cut. "The Five A.M. Strut" is a languid show-closer. It has a walking pace and swings with a gently volatile rhythm.