A technician with the tenor saxophone, when Walt Weiskopf plays, it's clear that it's him; his voice is sharp, crisp and totally unique. His style is dynamic and comparable, in some respects, to the late jazz icon, Stan Getz
. On Walt Weiskopf: Quartet Live
, the tenor saxophonist leads his quartet on what happens to be his very first live recording documenting a concert at the University of South Carolina, celebrating the final night of the bi-annual North American Saxophone Alliance convention. This recording would not have happened if it were not for the untimely death of drummer Tony Reedus
to whom the album is dedicatedshortly after the April 2008 concert, the last session of his life.
Reedus was considered by the saxophonist as "the best jazz drummer [he] ever knew." After hearing of Reedus' death, Weiskopfwho knew the concert was being recorded for archival purposeswas inspired to make the album after the drummer's passing in tribute to his late friend. Besides being a master on the sax, Weiskopf is also known as a prolific composer and arranger, as is evident here wherewith the exception of Cole Porter
' classic "Love For Sale" and Oscar Levant's 1934 standard, "Blame It On My Youth"the balance of the album is all originals.
Except for the opening "Man of Many Colors," all of the pieces are lengthy; not a criticism, rather just an observation, as Weiskopf delivers an excellent seventy-minutes of post-bop magic, spread over eight tracks. The music is upbeat, perky and generally a swinging affair with some notable exceptions: pianist Renee Rosnes
is featured on "Dizzy Spells / Jay-Walking," with its classical beginning and interludes, while the somber intro to "Scottish Folk Song" and the soft tone to "Blame It On My Youth," represent other departures from the project's overall texture.
Weiskopf's prowess is demonstrated on every track, as he is clearly the dominant force throughout the album. The live set winds down with a sizzling rendition of "Love For Sale," and a burning climax to the recording with the hot and heavy "Breakdown." Walt Weiskopf remains one of the finest reed men in jazz today as Walt Weiskopf: Quartet Live
clearly affirms. A monster recording that almost never came to be, Reedus may not have lived to hear the album, but his performanceas is the case with the entire groupis nothing less than fabulous.