All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

7

Ezra Weiss Sextet: Before You Know It [Live In Portland]

Dave Wayne By

Sign in to view read count
On Before You Know It, pianist / composer Ezra Weiss provides convincing evidence for the continued health and well-being of good old, straight ahead, gimmick-free modern acoustic jazz. The archetype for Weiss' beefy band and punchy charts would include Art Blakey's expanded Jazz Messenger lineups, some of McCoy Tyner's larger groups from the early-to-late 1970s, or perhaps some of Slide Hampton's septets and octets. Yet, Weiss' sound is utterly contemporary, exploring a wide variety of modern jazz styles in a consistently appealing fashion.

A democratic and somewhat effacing bandleader, Weiss takes a back seat to his very impressive three-horn front line. Here, alto saxophonist John Nastos is the most remarkable of the three in terms of chops and overall concept. He projects a ton of sound through his horn, and though his style seems to be a synthesis of David Sanborn's gritty gospel / soul sound and the more edgy flavors of modernists such as Arthur Blythe, Nastos' approach to this jazz-soul mind-meld consistently yields spine-tingling musical fireworks. He's the sort of soloist who can absolutely bring down the house, and he does so repeatedly on the title track, "Winter Machine" and "Don't Need No Ticket." Trumpeter Farnell Newton (who also designed the very attractive album packaging) is one of those brassmen who can turn the "gravel" in his sound on or off at will. Technically a beast, Newton's effortless soloing is reminiscent of past masters such as Woody Shaw and Lee Morgan. Devin Phillips is a classic "bull tenor" in the mold of Booker Ervin and Clifford Jordan. Despite the sterling performances by Newton, and Nastos throughout Before You Know It, Phillips' volcanic solo on John Coltrane's "Alabama" is an absolute tour de force that gets my vote for the single best performance on the entire album. The rest of the band is no less accomplished. Drummer Christopher Brown is an utterly contemporary and tasteful player who doesn't let his extraordinary chops subsume the subtlety required by Weiss' music. Brown's attention to swinging support frees up Jon Shaw's bass in ways that makes the music all the more interesting, while Weiss' expert comping only made me wish he'd solo more.

Most of the album is devoted to Weiss' original compositions which, while firmly in the modern mainstream jazz style, display enough stylistic variation to keep the listener on his or her toes. Fresh and interesting ideas abound throughout Before You Know It. The album's centerpiece, "The Five A. M. Strut," is a classic post-bop blowing tune recast as a New Orleans Second Line jam. Gospel, soul and R&B influences are quite evident on "Don't Need No Ticket" and the album-closing title track. A classic post-bop / 60's Blue Note vibe carries the day on "The Crusher," while Weiss' arrangement of George Gershwin's "A Foggy Day" is steeped in the post-Coltrane sound of McCoy Tyner's and Gary Bartz's recent work. "Jessie's Song" is similar, but a bit more elaborate, and really shows off Weiss' strengths as a composer / arranger; he also gets in a sweet solo spot here, as well.

Track Listing: Winter Machine; The Crusher; Don't Need No Ticket; A Foggy Day; Jessie's Song; The Five A. M. Strut; Alabama; EZ Introduces The Band; Before You Know It.

Personnel: Ezra Weiss: piano; Farnell Newton: trumpet; John Nastos: alto saxophone; Devin Phillips: tenor saxophone; Jon Shaw: bass; Christopher Brown: drums.

Title: Before You Know It [Live In Portland] | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Roark Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Before You Know It [Live In Portland]

Before You Know It...

Roark Records
2015

buy
Before You Know It [Live In Portland]

Before You Know It...

Roark Records
2014

buy
 

Our Path to This...

Stretch Records/Universal Classics and Jazz Japan
2013

buy
Our Path To This Moment

Our Path To This...

Roark Records
2012

buy
The Shirley Horn Suite

The Shirley Horn Suite

Roark Records
2011

buy
Get Happy

Get Happy

Roark Records
2008

buy

Related Articles

Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Charlie & Paul CD/LP/Track Review
Charlie & Paul
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Sunlight CD/LP/Track Review
Sunlight
by Jeff Winbush
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Fullmoon CD/LP/Track Review
Fullmoon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Fullmoon CD/LP/Track Review
Fullmoon
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Arise! CD/LP/Track Review
Arise!
by Chris May
Published: April 24, 2018
Read "Early to Late" CD/LP/Track Review Early to Late
by John Eyles
Published: March 29, 2018
Read "The Last Sense To Leave Us – A Tribute To Pauline Oliveros" CD/LP/Track Review The Last Sense To Leave Us – A Tribute To Pauline...
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 10, 2017
Read "Good Merlin" CD/LP/Track Review Good Merlin
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Ten Billion Versions of Reality" CD/LP/Track Review Ten Billion Versions of Reality
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "So Cute, So Bad" CD/LP/Track Review So Cute, So Bad
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 5, 2017
Read "Into a Myth" CD/LP/Track Review Into a Myth
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 17, 2017