the debut album by New York-based trombonist / vocalist Seth Weaver
, has its ups and downs, most of which involve the leader himself. The "ups" enter the picture thanks to Weaver's five far-better-than-average compositions, the "downs" whenever he chooses to sing, as he does on three of eight numbers. Luckily, the pluses far outweigh the minuses, thanks in large measure to Weaver's admirable ensemble, a number of first-rate soloists and the above-mentioned compositions, which herald Weaver as a talented designer of contemporary big-band themes.
Weaver is also a laudable arranger, as he shows from track to track, closing with a fiery, fast-moving version of the Johnny Burke / Jimmy van Heusen standard, "It Could Happen to You." As to his trombone, Weaver's solos (on five selections) may best be described as capable. In other words, he gets the job done without any "oh, wow!" moments. His singing is much the same, on the standards "Here's That Rainy Day" and "On a Clear Day" and his own modest composition, "What If." Weaver and the band fare appreciably better on the instrumentals, from "It Could Happen" to "Hudson," "Frost," "Red" and Weaver's lone ballad, the even-tempered "Last Hour of February."
Weaver's group of (presumably) younger musicians (all the names are unfamiliar) is well-schooled and well-prepared, its soloists sharp and limber. Weaver blends with guitarist Aleksi Glick
on the high-spirited "Hudson," with tenor Lukas Gabric
and trumpeter Oskar Stenmark
on "What If," and with pianist Addison Frei
on "Here's That Rainy Day." "Frost" is nowhere near as chilly as the name implies, gliding smoothly along behind genial solos by Weaver (muted), tenor Sam Dillon
and drummer Nolan Byrd
, while Marty Kenney
's walking bass introduces the bright and groovy "Red," on which Weaver later solos with alto Lucas Dodd
. Weaver and Frei are front and center on "February," tenors Dillon and Lukas with Kenney on "It Could Happen."
As noted, a promising albeit uneven maiden voyage for Weaver and his band, with its several high points overshadowing for the most part its less engaging moments, which, to be fair, aren't nearly frequent enough to scuttle the enterprise. High marks for Weaver as composer / arranger, and for the well-knit ensemble and its able soloists.
The Hudson; What If; Here’s That Rainy Day; Frost; Red; On a Clear Day; The Last Hour of February; It Could Happen to You.