Record Label: CAPRI Records
Style: Contemporary Jazz
Musicians: Walt Weiskopf - Tenor Saxophone; Renee Rosnes - Piano; Paul Gill - Bass; Tony Reedus - Drums.
Now, on this April night in 2008, they arrived together at Koger Hall, University of South Carolina, to celebrate the last night of the Bi-Annual North American Saxophone Alliance Convention. Ironically, it would be the final gathering of this particular quartet: A reprise cruelly precluded by the untimely passing, just months later, of drummer Tony Reedus.
These two occurrences serve to stamp this live recording as doubly significant.
A keen listener will be awed immediately by the rhythmic strength and scintillating technique of drummer Tony Reedus. Quite candidly, he is the 'engine' that drives the band, whether it needs to accelerate deftly through "Dizzy Spells/Jay Walking," (track 3) or purr unhurriedly for the traditional "Scottish Folk Song," (track 5), Reedus' playing style is replete with reminiscences of the rolling thunder of Max Roach, the driving force of Kenny Clarke, the tone and interpretive sense of a Jimmy Cobb.
Canada has produced another exceptional pianist out of the bright light left by Oscar Peterson, in the person of Renee Rosnes. Her keyboard solos on each of the CD's tracks sparkle with diamond-like clarity and are executed with mellifluous panache. She and Weiskopf shine brilliantly on his arrangement of "Scottish Folk Song" (track 5), in which they evoke a feeling of profound nostalgia for this mystical 'land of heroes, mysteries and spectacular scenery,' all the while maintaining a delicate musical balance between jazz idiom and folk genre.There is a palpable yearning for afternoon tea in Glasgow, at the historic Willow Tea Room on Saucaiehall Street, or a visit to beautiful Lake Loch Ness. The entire quartet fit superbly around this Scottish folk song, much to the delight of the engaged audience in attendance.
Bassist Paul Gill is steady, solid and competent almost to the point of having his immense contribution to the proceedings taken for granted; that is, until you run into "Blues In The Day" (track 4) where he displays his smooth, fluid bass lines, and a knack for coolly shadowing Reedus' burning drums.
Rosnes, Reedus and Gill comprise a formidable rhythm section that lends excitement to the dynamic elements of innovation, freedom and daring in Weiskopf's playing.
Weiskopf's interpretation of the 1956 Nat Cole hit, "Blame It On My Youth" (track 6) deserves special mention. His horn elegantly explores and elongates the pathos and melancholy suggested by the song's title, simultaneously giving expression to his own sincerely detailed sensitivities.
Cole Porter's "Love For Sale" (track 7) is a standard for which I have a particular bias, having heard, what I consider the definitive version, played by the 1956 Miles Davis Quintet. Nonetheless, I found this rendition well conceived and with enough playing space for unrestricted spontaneity by the players; and after all, that's what good jazz should be...utterly and uncompromisingly, in the moment!
Finally, comes "Breakdown" (track 8), the last track; a scorcher composed by Weiskopf... a fitting climax; and did they break it down! First the tenor states the theme, setting up Renee Rosnes' fingers as a flying blur, and she blazes through her opening solo. Weiskopf urgently circles back, quickly dispelling any notion of staidness; of playing it safe; abandoning conventional modes of attack; the horn morphing into a screaming colossus of raw power, speed and sound.Tony Reedus joined the pursuit; expanding the tension; giving no ground; daring 'hurricane' Weiskopf to blow him away; in the process, putting on a drum clinic. Ultimately, Weiskopk, Rosnes, Gill and Reedus spent themselves into an enervating, exploding, poly rhythmic unison....and then, like most wonderful happenings, it was over!
|Drummer Tony Reedus|
And so, as Charlie "Yardbird" Parker was wont to say "...give this man all the stars you've got."
Track Listing: Man of Many Colors; Little Minor Love Song; Dizzy Spells/Jay Walking; Blues In The Day; Scottish Folk Song; Blame It On My Youth; Love For Sale; Breakdown.