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Soul Journey

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Album Review

Pianist and composer Michael Weiss believes that the future of jazz lies in a closer integration of composition and improvisation. He puts that hypothesis to work on his fourth album as a leader, on which he takes a high-powered septet through an all-original program of nine compositions, all of them relatively straightforward in general structure and tone, but harmonically forward-looking at the same time. This kind of balance between innovation and accessibility is unusual in jazz, and it makes for an extremely interesting and enjoyable listening experience. The album's centerpiece is a tune titled "El Camino," which combines a sweetly melodic theme, lush written parts for the front line of alto sax, trumpet, and trombone, and gentle but complex Latin percussion to create a performance that is as dense and beautiful as a jungle. Other highlights include the more harmonically challenging "Orient Express" and the swinging, bluesy "Cheshire Cat," which also features more of Weiss' exceptional horn arrangements. It is hard to imagine any serious jazz lover not being captivated by this album. Highly recommended.


Born: 10 February 1958 in Dallas, TX

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Post-bop/hard bop instrumentalist Michael Weiss has been quoted as saying that he hopes to bring to jazz "a greater integration of composition and improvisation rather than the old head/solos/head format" -- and, to be sure, his ‘90s and 2000s albums have often reflected that compositional outlook. Although Weiss' releases have had a lot of improvisation, he has put a great deal of effort into writing and has aimed to make his albums more than simply "blowing dates"; Weiss sees himself as a composer/bandleader/arranger...
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