At a time when classic jazz seems fractured and flying off in a hundred or more separate directions, it is comforting to encounter sessions like this one, a superlative quartet date led by alto saxophonist and Renaissance man Cory Weeds
, and featuring David Hazeltine
, one of the more proficient and enterprising pianists on the scene. Day by Day,
their second recording together, awakens memories of a bygone era when giants ruled the jazz landscape, trail-blazers whose music remains as fresh and exciting today as it was when first created, and whose names and deeds are recited even today with reverence and awe.
In short, this is jazz as it is meant to be played, its emphasis on creative swinging, its goal to entertain and enlighten the listener. It is a pleasure to hear, an even greater pleasure to analyze. What that analysis uncovers is four musicians who work extremely well together and delight in doing so. Weeds and Hazeltine are radiant and resourceful soloists who are never at a loss for a suitable phrase or voicing, while bassist Ken Lister
and drummer Jesse Cahill
keep the rhythmic fire burning steadily behind them. Although Weeds' influences may be clear to the perceptive listener, he uses them not as cornerstones but as a framework on which to shape his own impressive vernacular. As for Hazeltine, he is as bright and dependable as the sunrise. Lister and Cahill don't solo often, but when called upon they have impressive ideas to impart.
Another of the album's strengths lies in the choice of material, an enchanting synthesis of half a dozen treasures from the Great American songbook and four handsome originals, all deftly arranged by Hazeltine. Most numbers are medium-to-up-tempo, with everyone stoking the furnace on "Nancy (With the Laughing Face)," "It Could Happen to You," "Tangerine," "Lullaby of the Leaves," "Nobody Else But Me" and the loping title song (walking intro by Lister, captivating solos by him and Weeds in the album's lone duo performance). There are two ballads, one of which, the placid "Sterling Silver Sailboat," was written by Weeds' father. The other is Johnny Mandel
/ Peggy Lee
's "The Shining Sea." Weeds' shuffling "Blues de Troye" and Hazeltine's free and easy "Relatively Minor" round out the earnest and admirable session.
As noted, not every jazz enthusiast is on the same page these days. For those who cleave to the no-nonsense approach exemplified by those visionary pioneers who put jazz on the map, Day by Day
should bring to mind pleasant thoughts of an era when jazz was more clearly defined, one whose imprint may be fading but has not entirely vanished, thanks to Weeds, Hazeltine and other like-minded musicians who uphold the torch.
Nobody Else But Me; Blues De Trove; Nancy With A Laughing Face; It Could Happen To You; Sterling
Silver Sailboat; Relatively Minor; Day By Day; Tangerine; Lullabye Of The Leaves; The Shining Sea.