Recommended: Dan Weiss – “Sixteen, Drummers Suite”


What’s fascinating about the newest from drummer Dan Weiss is how Weiss’s forward thinking vision incorporates influences of birds-of-a-feather from past generations, how the old New Sound still informs its New School descendants. Using rhythmic phrases of legendary jazz drummers as conversation starters, Weiss launches off into an innovative jazz orchestration project that echoes the experimental works of Archie Shepp’s 1970s spiritual jazz-protest music hybrid works as well as of the works of Alice Coltrane from that same period, where spiritual jazz incorporated the use of electronics and non-traditional jazz instrumentation as it attempted to achieve a higher consciousness.

Each title references the drummer whose work provides the seed of the song. But much in the same way that saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls used only tiny filaments as the base for a much thicker thread of inspiration for each tune, Weiss narrows the scope of the influence before launching off into dramatically more expansive forms of expression. The Elvin Jones comping rhythm from his Coltrane days is a primary building block of the tune “Elvin,” but the cyclic melodic patterns and swirling current of voices reflect new footprints on the brand new territory Weiss takes his ensemble forward into on Sixteen: Drummers Suite. It’s about how those legendary drummers would talk and the connections between them as drummers, not the form and substance that those conversations ultimately manifested.

His newest builds on the foundation of his excellent 2014 release Fourteen, and continues Weiss’s exploration into the possibilities of jazz orchestra in the modern day. But the Drummers Suite premise provides greater focus to the cross-currents of electronics, voices, rhythmic approaches and melodic crafting. And for what amounts to a pretty thrilling album, that additional clarity is what allows its intelligence to shine through.

Your album personnel: Dan Weiss (drums, tabla, vocal percussion), Thomas Morgan (acoustic bass), Jacob Sacks (piano), Matt Mitchell (keyboard, piano, glockenspiel, organ, vibraphone), Miles Okazaki (guitars, vocal percussion), Stephen Cellucci (percussion, vocal percussion), Katie Andrews (harp), Anna Webber (flute, alto flute), David Binney (alto sax), Miguel Zenon (alto sax), Ohad Talmor (tenor sax), Jacob Garchik (trombone, tuba), Ben Gerstein (trombone), Judith Berkson (voice), Lana Is (voice) and Jen Shyu (voice).

Released on PI Recordings.

Listen to more of the album at the artist’s Bandcamp page.

Jazz from the Brooklyn scene.

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon