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Persephone by Ezra Weiss

There are sessions that "sound like" iconic Blue Note and Prestige sessions, while others are like them. Pianist Ezra Weiss’ Persephone clearly belongs in the latter category. While his approach to the keys, band sound, and compositional bend are very reminiscent of Blue Note's glory days of 1961-1967, Weiss & Co. are far from being reactionary re-bop types trying to emulate the past glories of others. For one thing, the use of clarinet recalls Third Stream and 20th century classical writing, and the unison voicings are appealingly sparse and feature alternating combinations of winds in the style of Chas. Mingus and Andrew Hill, that tangy mix of aspects of the blues and classical music. Weiss’ style is lyrical and flowing, measured and economical in the manner of McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock in their mid-60s BN era. The overall mood of Weiss’ tunes (all his) is one of bittersweet melancholy (5PM on an overcast Saturday, dinner alone on Sunday) but with an undertone of cautious hopefulness - further, he writes real melodies, not simply skimpy frameworks for improvisation. Most tracks hover around the six-minute mark, so there’s no excess or water-treading. Antonio Hart, while not a mimic or slavish stylist, has such a tart, mercurial, and roguishly good-natured tone, he is clearly an heir to the throne of the great Cannonball Adderley. This is DARN good stuff, fans - bright, not just "straight-ahead" but looking-ahead hard bop played with humble spirit and sparkling élan.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Ezra Weiss
  • CD Title: Persephone
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Umoja
  • Musicians: E. Weiss (piano, producer), Michael Philip Mossman (trumpet, flugelhorn), Antonio Hart (alto sax, flute), Kelly Roberge (tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Leon Lee Dorsey (bass), Billy Hart or Jason Brown (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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