Pianist Michael Weiss took home the Grand Prize in the 2000 BMI/Thelonious Monk Institute's Composition Competition for his song "El Camino," which is included on Soul Journey. This Latin-flavored mainstream beauty features three-horn harmonies and tasty soloing all around. "El Camino" is a sure winner, but the CD is full of other fine Weiss-composed songs: the upbeat opener, "Optimism"; the brooding title tune; and the brassy "Second Thoughts."
The septet takes a very mainstream approacha three horn front line (trombone/trumpet/alto sax) and a standard jazz rhythm section, plus an additional percussionist. An Art Blakey approach, though with a smoother sound, harmony more in the forefront of the proceedings, and glowing unison blowing. Ryan Kisor stands out on trumpet solos with his buttery smooth tone.
It's the songs, though, that star on Soul Journey. And though Weiss doesn't call attention to himself as an instrumentalist, additional listens reveal a richness to his own solos, a smooth and understated eloquence. He tells stories when it's his turn: structured mini-songsbeginning, middle, endslipped into the middle of the compositions. Another listen, and Steve Wilson's trombone solo on "La Ventana" sparkles. Then there's the very "jazzy" workout "The Cheshire Cat", where trumpeter Kisor sings a cool song before altoist Steve Wilson brings things back to a simmer.
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total)
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total). He saw an alto sax on my neck and said: Hey, how about you there, would you like to play something for us? I played a piece with the piano. OK, said Lee, how about you play something unaccompanied? Oh yeah! I was deep into transcribing Sonny Stitt and pretty much into playing as fast as possible as many right notes as possible. So I played Oleo in about 300 beats per minute and was very proud of myself. Lee was tapping his foot all the way through. Hmm, he said, that was in time and all that... (I thought - yeah, of course, haha!) and then he said, You've got a lot of quantity, how about quality? It took me 15 years to realize what he meant.