Deborah Weisz makes a strong statement and underlines her credentials as a composer and trombone player on Grace, her second album. She defines different styles with a compact sense of accomplishment, an attribute that also owes its devolution to her fine band.
The opening track was written for her brother Will. It is full of surprises, its twists and turns keeping you on edge, then coming to a highly satisfactory resolution. Weisz opens the soundscape in a soft approach and Andrew Sterman brings in taut, dynamically charged lines. The tempo churns gradually, a slow simmer with the beat ticking propulsively. Weisz shows her mettle with some well-delineated, emotional, compact playing. Sterman sweeps in, swinging strongly, spurred by bassist Nicki Parrott and drummer Eric Halvorson, the storm of hard bop brewing into a tempest as free motifs shard the pattern and let Sheryl Bailey's electric guitar cry in metallic spur. This track encapsulates the wide sphere that is Weisz's perception.
The other tunes create their own shades of appeal. The blues bring on "New Light. Weisz weighs in with some funky trombone playing, getting into the métier without a growl, yet casting a deep shadow. Sterman fuels the impetus with some hardy intonations, and Bailey extends the tension with agile lines that drink fulsomely of the blues and loosen delicious chords.
Grace includes some cover pieces as well. The emotional core of Jim McNeely's "Touch is enriched by the warmth that Olivier Ker Ourio lends, his harmonica playing filled with passion. Bailey's "Underdog's Anonymous is a swinging number taken into its firmament by the guitarist and then the trombonist, both fiery and hot in their conceptions. And yes, Sterman adds his ingredient: agile lines that enhance the pungency.
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