Drum master Weckl continues to hawk the muscular brand of fusion that he began dealing with Chick Corea’s Elektric Band over a decade ago. This album seems a catharsis for Weckl, having just come off a divorce and other personal problems. He’s in better form drum-wise than we have heard in some time, and the music on this disc is more engaging than his prior efforts.
It would be hard to find a better environment for Weckl’s style than this present quartet. Brandon Fields offers the ideal blend of soulful jazz sax tradition and contemporary flair. Keyboardist Steve Weingart accentuates the grooves without succumbing to tired synth cliches, and bassist Tom Kennedy’s unwavering, unobtrusive musicianship often carries the day. Weckl himself is a real treasure in the fickle ocean of contemporary jazz, conjuring exciting, unexpected polyrhythms on a consistent basis. Drummers who lead bands tend to run the risk of overpowering the general ensemble sound, but Weckl has a knack for navigating while keeping his ego in check.
The compositions on Transition are uniformly well-built and suited to the band’s character. There are liberal doses of funk, offbeat rhythmic structures, and no small wealth of solo spots for each performer. If there’s a quibble to be had with the disc, it might be that the production is a little too glossy and sterile. The overall mix glazes the album with a rather generic contempo-jazz sense when the music deserves better. Still, that hardly detracts from the enjoyability of the disc, which is Weckl’s best yet and one of the best entries in the Stretch Records catalog.
Track Listing: Wake Up; Braziluba; Like That; Mild Hysteria; Group Therapy; Passion; Crossing Paths; Alegria; Just For The Record; Amanacer.
Personnel: Dave Weckl, drums and percussion; Steve Weingart, keyboards; Brandon Fields, tenor and soprano saxes, alto flute; Tom Kennedy, electric bass.