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The Five A.M. Strut

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Album Review

Ideally, jazz should accommodate innovators as well as traditionalists. There is room for avant-garde explorers who push the envelope (Ivo Perelman, Henry Threadgill, Dave Douglas) and there is also room for a swing-to-bop traditionalist like Scott Hamilton (who was never cutting-edge but is damn good at what he does). The Five A.M. Strut, Ezra Weiss' first album as a leader, won't go down in history as the most innovative or forward-thinking debut of the early 2000s; much of his hard bop and post-bop material could have been written 40 years earlier. Throughout the album, the acoustic pianist is quite mindful of the '60s — especially the classic Blue Note recordings of Horace Silver and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. But if Weiss is determined to be a traditionalist, his goal should be to provide quality traditionalism — and The Five A.M. Strut is a solid debut for this Portland, OR, resident, who was only 23 when he co-produced this CD with bassist Leon Lee Dorsey in New York in October 2002. This sextet date shows Weiss to be a triple threat; he is skillful as a pianist (Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, and Cedar Walton are obvious pianistic influences) and he is also talented as a bandleader/arranger and a composer. Weiss, in fact, wrote all of the material himself, which certainly counts for something when you consider how many of today's jazz artists are content to play the same old beaten-to-death warhorses over and over. ("My Funny Valentine" is a great song, but do we really need to hear hundreds of new versions in the 21st century?) The Five A.M. Strut falls short of remarkable, but it's an enjoyable, if derivative, demonstration of the pianist's various talents.


Born: January 16, 1979 in Phoenix, AZ

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A gifted acoustic pianist, composer, bandleader, and arranger, Ezra Weiss has been a perfect example of what jazz critics like to describe as a "Young Lion" -- that is, a young improviser who started out playing straight-ahead jazz rather than fusion, avant-garde jazz, crossover jazz, or electric jazz-funk. The hard bop/post-bop pianist emerged in the '90s, but his influences are people who became well-known in '40s, '50s, or '60s. Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, Cedar Walton, and Kenny Barron are among...
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The Five A.M. Strut, Ezra Weiss
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  • $8.91
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Sep 23, 2003

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