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David Weiss & Point Of Departure: Venture Inward

Dan Bilawsky By

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Fans of trumpeter David Weiss may be a bit confused when they take a look at this album. At quick glance, it reads like a re-tread of Weiss' Snuck In (Sunnyside, 2010), which has a near-identical line-up playing a near-identical program, but there's a good reason for that: both albums were actually recorded a day apart in completely different environments. Snuck In—and companion piece Snuck Out (Sunnyside, 2011)—capture Weiss' Point Of Departure band (mostly) live at New York's Jazz Standard on March 25, 2008; The majority of Venture Inward's tracks were recorded in a studio a day earlier.

It's tempting to run a complete compare-and-contrast on all three albums, but it isn't really necessary. All of these records, when viewed as a single body of work, help to provide a complete picture of this band at a specific point and time and they're all first rate.

Weiss' Point Of Departure quintet points directly to the late '60s, but doesn't really live there. The band takes inspiration from trumpeter Miles Davis' second great quintet and its membership, trumpeter Charles Moore, and original thinking pianist Andrew Hill, but it puts its own spin on material connected to these artists. Weiss chose wisely when he put together this group of highly respected modernists, who fit this music well without kowtowing to its creators. Tenor saxophonist JD Allen shares the front line with Weiss, and both men marry the unpredictable with the melodic at every turn. Guitarist Nir Felder deftly changes hats, as he delivers shimmering background commentary one minute and probing solo work the next, and drummer Jamire Williams is a beacon of intensity. Bassist Luques Curtis, who's replaced by Matt Clohesy on the Sunnyside albums, acts as a musical adhesive, binding all manner of sound together at any given moment.

Pianist Herbie Hancock's "I Have A Dream," which features some winning interplay between Weiss and Allen, and drummer Tony Williams' "Black Comedy," which moves with strength and off-kilter buoyancy, open things up. Moore's lengthy and intense "Number 4" finds the band exploring a loose-tight rhythmic duality, as solos get passed around and things congeal and disintegrate at will. The majority of this music is powerful and direct, but finesse does find a way into the picture on Hill's "Pax," which follows on the heels of his sly "Venture Inward." Moore's "Snuck In" serves as potent conclusion to an exciting album that's built around a new take on the late '60s "new thing" esthetic.

Track Listing: I Have A Dream; Black Comedy; Number 4; Venture Inward; Pax; Snuck In.

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

Title: Venture Inward | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

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