The '60s are considered by many to have been a golden age of small-group Jazz, one that trumpeter David Weiss, making his debut as leader, and his quintet of up-and-coming young lions traverse again on Breathing Room, an album that shines its light on that earlier era without producing much heat. Weiss, whose forebears include Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorham, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard and other hard boppers, is technically and spontaneously sound, as are his companionspianist Xavier Davis and bassist Dwayne Burno, brothers Marcus and E.J. Strickland on tenor sax and drums, respectively, and alto saxophonist Craig Handy who sits in on four numbers. On the other hand, after hearing them perfom a pair of Wayne Shorter's compositions (”Armageddon,” “Those Who Sit and Wait”), Marcus Strickland's “Parallel Sonorities” and four pieces by Weiss, one can't help harboring the opinion that he's heard these songs beforeor at least, songs that so closely resemble them as to cloud one's memory. Each of the charts is carefully shaped but inescapably ephemeral, this in spite of the best efforts of everyone involved. Weiss's solos are crisp and clean, in the best tradition of his predecessors, while Davis is a consistently persuasive improviser. Marcus Strickland has an earnest if largely derivative voice, and the same can be said of Handy who solos on “Getaway,” “Dark Forces” and the dynamic closer, “Kickback,” based on Joe Henderson's composition, “The Kicker,” which produces the most unrestrained blowing on the date. Those who cherish fond memories of those wailing Blue Note albums from the early '60s and beyond should derive ample pleasure from this newer version — but they should know before opening the package that it contains not freshly baked entrees but warmed-over appetizers.
Armageddon/Breathing Room/Parallel Sonarities/Getaway/Those Who Sit And Wait/Dark Forces/Kickback
David Weiss, trumpet; Marcus Strickland, tenor saxophone; Craig Handy, alto saxophone; Xavier Davis, piano; Dwayne Burno, bass; E.J. Strickland, drums.
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