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Tuesday, March 02, 2021

The Dave Weckl Band reunites on a thrillingly funky new live album #jazz


The Dave Weckl Band: Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival 2019, due out April 9, 2021 via Autumn Hill Records, brings together Weckl with virtuoso saxophonist Gary Meek and original members Jay Oliver, Tom Kennedy and Buzz Feiten for the band’s first album since 2005

Video premiere for first single, “Big B Little B,” at JazzTimes

For Immediate Release – When the legendary Dave Weckl Band reunited on stage at the 2019 Chesterfield Wine & Jazz Festival in St. Louis, Missouri, the show was already a rare and very special occasion. But even playing their first real show together in more than a decade, the band had no idea how special the set would feel just a few months later. Arriving a year into a global pandemic that’s left audiences around the world starving for live music, The Dave Weckl Band: Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival 2019 not only provides a potent reminder of the spirit and energy that we’ve all been missing during quarantine, but captures a brilliant return to form by one of jazz fusion’s most influential and virtuosic ensembles.
JazzTimes has the video premiere for the album’s first single, “Big B Little B,” here:
Due out April 9, 2021 via Autumn Hill Records, The Dave Weckl Band: Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival 2019 reunites drummer Weckl with founding band members Jay Oliver (keyboards), Tom Kennedy (bass) and, for the first time in more than 20 years, Buzz Feiten on guitar. They’re joined by Weckl’s longtime saxophonist of choice, Gary Meek, who joined in 2003 – making this a unique but integral incarnation of the band. The music will be released digitally through Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube and other streaming platforms, while a full HD video will be available exclusively to subscribers of the Dave Weckl Online School.
“It's a really good feeling for me to have the band come back together and perform this music that we conceived 25 or 30 years ago,” Weckl says. “Especially now, to be able to share the live experience since many of us haven't had much of a chance to do this lately, since it feels like we’ve been living on another planet. I think people are hungrier than  ever just to have a reminder like this.”
The Dave Weckl Band came back together at the invitation of St. Louis musicians Rob and Mike Silverman, co-founders of the Chesterfield Festival. Longtime fans, the Silvermans also share the hometown pride of fellow St. Louis natives Weckl, Oliver and Kennedy – all three of whom have played together since their teenage years in the city, making the gig a homecoming as well as a reunion.
Outside of a few intimate benefit performances by a quartet version of the band in celebration of Weckl and Oliver’s 2014 duo project Convergence, the band had not performed together since disbanding in 2006. Once they reconvened, however, it was evident that the old chemistry was more than intact. “It was a very joyous, special moment from down beat one,” Weckl recalls. “From the very first song that we started rehearsing there was such a great sound and a great feeling, even though the chemistry was a little bit different in the sense that Buzz had never played with Gary. I immediately though, ‘Oh man, I remember now how cool this was.’”
Oliver agrees, saying, “It was absolute magic. We couldn't stop smiling. The minute we started playing, we all just stopped and looked at each other. We’d forgotten how much of a groove, a magic, and a synergy there is when we play together. It's a thing that I cannot really describe, but it feels really good.”
The Dave Weckl Band was formed in 1998, after the drummer had released four all-star studio efforts featuring such all-star guests as Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, Steve Gadd, Eric Marienthal, Anthony Jackson, John Patitucci and James Genus. Wanting to tour his music, Weckl assembled a band with constant collaborator Oliver as well as Kennedy, Feiten, and saxophonist Brandon Fields.
More than half of the tunes on The Dave Weckl Band: Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival 2019 are culled from the band’s 1998 debut album, the funky, combustible Rhythm of the Soul. That includes the taut, high-spirited funk of opener “The Zone,” which sets the celebratory tone for the set as a whole, buoyed by Weckl’s adroit juggling act of a groove; the horn-driven punch of “Big B Little B,” highlighted by a sinuous Meek solo; the swampy down-home feel of “Mud Sauce,” with Feiten digging deep for a searing, gutbucket solo; the Stevie Wonder-inspired soul of “101 Shuffle;” the sultry ballad “Song for Claire;” and the action-movie techno-funk of the blistering closing number “Access Denied.”
The remainder of the repertoire reaches back to Weckl’s solo work for the lyrical “Tribute,” a feature for Oliver initiated by a breathtakingly elegant solo piano intro, from 1994’s Hard Wired; and all the way to his 1990 solo debut Master Plan for the profoundly funky “Tower of Inspiration.” 1999’s Synergy yields the mid-tempo title track, while the hard-boppin’ “What Happened To My Good Shoes?” flashes forward to Of the Same Mind, the 2015 release by the Dave Weckl Acoustic Band.
Finally, Weckl and Kennedy pair off for their duo improvisation on Thelonious Monk’s “Rhythm-a-Ning,” a longtime staple of their performances together. Here the eight-minute excursion offers a prime example of the vital chemistry shared by the rhythm tandem, roaming far afield without ever losing the angular contours of the classic tune. “We've done that quite a bit,” Weckl says, “but it was really special on that night.”
Weckl and Oliver have both moved back to St. Louis recently, an intriguing coincidence that raises hopes for further collaboration once post-Covid life has resumed some semblance of normality. The return is also one more way in which Weckl seems to have come full circle of late; in addition to the reunion of his own band, he recently rejoined Chick Corea and John Patitucci for a tour and live album with Corea’s Akoustic Band.
“Both of these bands feel like a family situation,” Weckl concludes. “Even though we’ve all kept in touch over the years, it's always a special thing to do a project together. In a way it's like sitting in an old rocking chair – very familiar. But at the same time, it's very different based on everybody's experiences and growth since the last time we played.”
Fans couldn’t hope for a warmer, more exhilarating embodiment of that statement than The Dave Weckl Band: Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival 2019. The embracing family vibe beams from every note, while the thrilling spontaneity and sense of adventure can only come from decades of evolution, countless hours of shared creation, and a lifetime of musical chemistry.
Order link for The Dave Weckl Band: Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival 2019
Mike Wilpizeski/Chart Room Media – 424-333-8435,

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Monday, March 01, 2021

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 100 - March 1, 2021 #jazz

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Monday, February 22, 2021

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 100 - February 22, 2021 #jazz

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

"Magic Dance: The Music of Kenny Barron" new release from Greg Abate #jazz

Wedding Bliss:
Greg Abate's musical gifts combined with
Kenny Barron's gorgeous compositions
Is a match made in bebop heaven

There’s a beautiful marriage happening with Greg Abate’s “Magic Dance: The Music of Kenny Barron." It’s the union between Abate’s multi-instrumental gift of bebop and Kenny Barron’s varied and sublime compositions. Abate and Barron, who, in addition to lending Abate his material, handles keys on this recording session, are soul mates occupying the same lovely musical space.

With Barron’s material and Abate’s fresh vision, the two-disc set, recorded over three days at Rudy Van Gelder Studio in New Jersey, is a revelation. Says Abate: “Kenny was kind enough to provide me with music for a range of his tunes, some more well-known than others. The only difficult part was choosing which ones to record.”

Abate researched and reworked Barron’s music, inserting his own ideas when appropriate, enhancing his arrangements with multiple sax overdubs, and, when the original was so good, it made sense to leave well enough alone. The project was challenging, multi-dimensional, and immensely gratifying. “I even scored a big band sax section (two altos, two tenors and bari) on ‘Innocence’ and ‘Voyage.’ The other 12 tracks have either one horn, or two horns in harmony.”

Each song received concentrated effort to mix and match saxes and flute, instilling a personal touch without losing the theme of the song. Says Abate: “Besides writing and varying intros and solo chord progressions, I tinkered with key changes, endings and tempos, all with the aim of making something happen. You may hear the head changes differing from the solo chords on many of these tunes. The hard part was to come up with the horn sound that fits each tune best.”

In addition to the mesmerizing material, the room also cast a spell on the band. “The studio was amazing. It oozes history,” says Abate. “Working with Maureen and Don Sickler was a humbling experience. What an honor.” Collaborating with the players on the session must have also been humbling. The lineup, which included Barron, alongside the hot-shot rhythm section of bass player Dezron Douglas and drummer Johnathan Blake, knows this material better than anyone. Together they fully support Abate’s innovations, elevating these arrangements as if they were new to the repertoire. “It was a welcome challenge to construct and execute the arrangements and harmonies, overdubbing and soloing! And the band only made it more welcoming.”

The overdubbing, mixing, and mastering were done by John Mailloux at Bongo Beach, in Westport, MA. Says Abate, “John made me comfortable during what were otherwise very tense times, and he enabled me to realize my musical ideas and get them to sound great.”

Songs like “Rain” and “Innocence” and “Voyage” and—frankly, many many more—are all worth hearing. The set is brisk, passionate and lovely. You can let it wash over you like an ocean breeze, or you can dig into it like a treasure chest, and search for gems. The material, the vision, the ensemble, and the sublime recording here reaffirms the health of real bebop, a genre in which Abate has been, throughout his five-decade career, a dependable flame keeper. With this collaboration, Barron and Abate prove that the glory of straight-ahead jazz can still be purposeful, exhilarating, and, like all great marriages, faithful and true.

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Monday, February 15, 2021

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 100 - February 15, 2021 #jazz

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Thursday, February 11, 2021

Chick Corea, Jazz Pianist Who Expanded the Possibilities of the Genre, Dead at 79 #jazz

Keyboardist helped Miles Davis usher in the fusion revolution and founded his own revolutionary groups, including Return to Forever

Chick Corea, the virtuosic keyboardist who broadened the scope of jazz during a career spanning more than five decades, died on Tuesday from a rare form of cancer. A post on his Facebook page confirmed the news. Corea was 79.

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Monday, February 08, 2021

Smooth Jazz Chart - Weekly Top 100 - February 8, 2021 #jazz

Smooth Jazz Chart 
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When it updates, this post will be repeated with the most recent chart.