Two distinct types of jazz album have emerged in the difficult Covid pandemic times: the do-it-yourself statements, usually recorded in a home studio, often with internet sound swapping; and the pent-up energy, post-pandemic energy bursts, musicians getting together again after a year or more of minimal in-person collaboration. Diamonds And Other Jewels, from the Walt Weiskopf European Quartet, is of the latter type. Saxophonist Weiskopf, pianist Carl Winther, bassist Andreas Lang and drummer Anders Mogensen jump out of the speakers from the start with "Spatacus," one of the seven dynamic originals offered up here.
The quartet began its life under Weskopf's leadership in 2017. Diamonds And Other Jewels is its sixth release, andafter mostly lying dormant as a group during the pandemicthey reconvene with a special expressive gusto, and a palpable sense of joy and adventure.
"Black Diamond," less ferocious than 'Spartacus," rolls with a smooth flow. Weiskopf's solo is freewheeling and muscular, bringing sax man Joe Henderson to mind with an on-edge adventurousness. "Thad Nation" nods to trumpeter & bandleader Thad Jones, with a colorful and upbeat mood, and "Blond Diamond" broods beautifully.
"My Old Flame," the disc's only non-original, was recorded in 1944 by Billie Holiday. It adds a welcome bit of soothing familiarity to the set.
Overall the sound seems to owe a debt to saxophonist John Coltrane's quartet with pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Jimmy Garrison, before things went into interstellar spacea fine era for Coltrane, and a fine one for the Walt Weiskopf European Quartet, too.
Spartacus; Black Diamond; Other Jewels; Incantation; Thad Nation; My Old Flame; Blood Diamond;
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