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David Weiss & Point Of Departure: Snuck In

Dan Bilawsky By

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Trumpeter David Weiss was way ahead of his time when he brought together a group of forward-thinking musician-composers to form the New Jazz Composers Octet in 1996. This group—and the writing that was born from within its ranks—received positive critical response from the get-go, and foreshadowed the rise in collective-type situations throughout the jazz community. While Weiss' work within that group helped to mark him as a rising star in the world of jazz composition, his selfless contributions to the last chapter of trumpet great Freddie Hubbard's career brought him even greater attention. While Hubbard was well past his finest form in his later years, Weiss rightly saw to it that Hubbard was placed in the proper musical settings to support his playing. These two working situations get to the core of David Weiss; reverently respecting the past, but looking forward through performance, arrangement and composition.

"Point of Departure"—the name of Weiss' band here and the title of a classic Andrew Hill album—can be seen as a motto for Snuck In. Weiss puts his own spin on material from Hill, Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and the lesser-known Charles Moore, and uses each piece as a leaping point. Guitarist Nir Felder is the game-changer on this album, instantly helping to repackage these pieces in a more modern fashion, with Weiss still in charge.

Hancock's "I Have A Dream"—a masterful blend of luxuriant instrumental textures on The Prisoner (Blue Note, 1969)—is given a darker treatment here. Bassist Matt Clohesy is a steady and heavy presence, with Weiss and saxophonist JD Allen often weaving around one another. The rhythmic undertow is rather strong in these waters, and Allen, Weiss and Felder swim with all their might. The spirit of Miles Davis' second great quintet is in the air during "Black Comedy," and the band makes a seamless segue from the opening number into this performance.

Moore's "Number 4"—clocking in at nearly twenty minutes—is the literal and figurative centerpiece. Allen—spurred on by drummer Jamire Williams —delivers a rhythmically potent solo, and Weiss works best as he ruminates over a looser backdrop. Hill's "Erato" is a delicately delivered gem that pays homage to one of jazz's most underrated composers, while "Snuck In"—another Moore composition— ends things with a bang.

Snuck In, full of magical musical moments and potent streams of improvisation, just might sneak into some "best-of" lists for 2010.

Track Listing: I Have A Dream; Black Comedy; Number 4; Erato; Snuck In.

Personnel: David Weiss: trumpet; J.D. Allen: tenor saxophone; Nir Felder; guitar; Matt Clohesy: bass; Jamire Williams: drums.

Title: Snuck In | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

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