Moving jazz forward has been David Weiss’s modus operandi ever since he appeared on the scene in the late eighties when he established himself in New York by touring and/or recording with the likes of Freddie Hubbard, Charles Tolliver, Billy Harper, Bobby Hutcherson, Slide Hampton, James Moody, Tom Harrell, Louis Hayes, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Billy Hart, among many others.
Weiss was born and raised in Queens, New York and began taking piano lessons when he was ten years old. He added trumpet to his arsenal when he was 13. The music in his neighborhood was rock-n-roll and the favorites were the likes of Led Zepplin and Black Sabbath, which he embraced. His tastes soon evolved to more progressive rock like King Crimson and Gentle Giant and then to further out European rock groups like Magma, Area and Henry Cow. In high school, he began playing keyboards (and also a little trumpet through effects) in some local rock bands and right before leaving for college began to play in a band that eventually morphed into the group Material featuring future producers Bill Laswell and Michael Beinhorn. While in art school, Weiss became more exposed to free jazz and began to focus primarily on trumpet again. He also got the opportunity to perform with Fred Frith, Chris Cutler and Henry Kaiser. Weiss then left art school to attend Karl Berger’s Creative Music Studio studying with George Lewis, Jimmy Giuffre, Leo Smith, Pauline Oliveros, Gerry Hemmingway and John Zorn among many others. At the suggestion of Mr. Giuffre, Weiss sought out a more fully rounded music education and transferred to North Texas State University. Upon graduating,
Weiss returned to New York and soon found work with Jaki Byard, Frank Foster and Jimmy Heath and began to study with fellow trumpeters Tommy Turrentine and Bill Hardman.. He also became a mainstay in New York’s thriving Salsa scene, playing with many of the legends of the music. He also played in many of the top Haitian and Soca bands in New York and toured extensively throughout the Carribean with these groups. Weiss also did a short stint with Ray Charles and assisted in scoring the music for the TV show “The Cosby Mysteries” starring Bill Cosby.
In 1996, recognizing a lack of serious new jazz writing, Weiss recruited some young, first-call New York musicians and composers to form the New Jazz Composers Octet. With their passionate rendering of thoughtful arrangements and firm rooting in tradition, the collective quickly established itself as the “sound of the new jazz mainstream” (Ben Ratliff, NYTimes) and was praised for their ability to “stretch hard bops kind-of-unstretchable formula (Jim Macnie, Village Voice). Of Weiss’ contribution to the Octet’s 1999 recording debut, First Steps Into Reality (Fresh Sound Records), Willard Jenkins commented, “a skilled arranger, transcriber and all-round coordinator, Weiss also brings righteous trumpet chops to this potent mix.” (Jazz Times). The CD was also lauded as a “gem” and received a Critic’s Pick as one of the Top 5 Albums of the Year in Jazz Times.