Tenor saxophonist Alex Weitz's third album, Rule of Thirds, is a quartet date with guestson seven of its nine tracks. In addition to playing tenor, Weitz wrote all but one of those numbers, Cole Porter's seductive "Love for Sale." Like many saxophonists these days, Weitz has excellent technique, which means he plays a lot of notes, and does that quite well. To his credit, he doesn't lean exclusively on that aspect of his talent, slowing the pace on several numbers to lay bare his more emotional nature.
"Nocturne in C Sharp Minor" exemplifies that divergence, as do "Harlem Lullaby" and the closing "Sonata for Fred." Elsewhere, the pace varies from brisk to temperate as guest pianist Emmet Cohen ( "The Hive, "Convent Court," "Love for Sale"), trumpeter Marcus Printup ("Convent Court"), guitarist Yotam Silberstein ("Nocturne," "Odyssey") and drummer Ari Hoenig ("The Hive," "Love for Sale") amplify and enliven the numbers on which they sit in.
There are no guests on the well-grooved title song or jagged "Rude Awakening," wherein Weitz fronts a rhythm section consisting of pianist Tal Cohen, bassist Ben Tiberio and drummer Michael Piolet, who are squarely on point and up to the task, as is everyone else. In fact, it could be said that the musicianship at times outstrips the music, which seldom rises above capable. An exception is "Love for Sale," whose well-known theme kicks off at a leisurely pace before Weitz and his mates turn up the heat with a series of tempo changes that lead to torrid solos by Weitz and Tal Cohen.
Printup is splendid on his only number, as are Hoenig, Silberstein and Emmet Cohen on theirs. There is no question that the album would be rather less engaging without them. As it is, we have an above-average session whose music is generally pleasing albeit not special, earnestly performed by first-rate musicians. Hardly a classic but handsome enough to earn a moderate thumbs-up.
The Hive; Nocturne in C Sharp Minor; Rude Awakening; Harlem Lullaby; Odyssey; Convent
Court; Rule of Thirds; Love for Sale; Sonata for Fred.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.