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Dan Weiss: Timshel

David Adler By

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Drummer Dan Weiss made a promising trio debut in 2006 with Now Yes When, featuring pianist Jacob Sacks and bassist Thomas Morgan. Timshel, the follow-up, shows an impressive amount of growth for this lineup in the years since. The ideas are bolder, the dynamics more acute, the presentation more evolved. There are few if any pauses between tracks, allowing for a live performance feel without belaboring the idea of a suite. The 12 compositions, all by Weiss, demand close, immersive listening on the part of the band and us as well. The result? A piano trio recording that rivals the depth and power of Vijay Iyer's acclaimed Historicity (ACT, 2009) and shares a bit of its brooding harmonic character and orchestrational oddity.

Weiss is arguably unique among today's jazz drummers, transposing ideas from his tabla study to the drum kit, as heard most clearly on Tintal Drum set Solo (Chhandayan , 2005) and the forthcoming Jhaptal Drum set Solo. Through this discipline, Weiss has not only found a singular voice on his instrument—he has also put his insights to vivid compositional use, whether overtly on "Teental Song" and "Chakradar #4" or subtly woven into the contrapuntal themes and charged improvisations of "Stephanie," "Florentino and Fermina" and "Timshel" (Hebrew for "thou mayest"). The most outwardly unusual cut, "Always Be Closing," finds Weiss on brushes mirroring profanity-laced dialogue from the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross, articulating every syllable of every phrase on drums—a gesture that recalls Jason Moran's "Ringing My Phone" and "Infospace," although the rhythmic particularities are Weiss' own.

The crisp sound of Timshel can be stunning. Every ping and chime of Weiss' cymbals stands in sharp relief and his quieter, shaded textures do as much to define the music as his more robust technical passages. Sacks and Morgan, too, shore up the broad, lustrous tone quality of the date, slipping easily from support to feature roles as called for by Weiss' writing and the flux of the moment.

Track Listing: Prelude; Stephanie; Always Be Closing; Frederic; Teental Song; Chakradar # 4; Interlude; Florentino and Fermina; What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?; Timshel; Dream; Postlude.

Personnel: Dan Weiss: percussion; Jacob Sacks: piano; Thomas Morgan: bass.

Title: Timshel | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


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