What is most striking about Soul Journey is the diversity of the compositions, the dexterity which Weiss develops his materials and the way the forms and improvisations merge into an organic whole. Take for example, El Camino, which won the Grand Prize in the 2000 BMI/Thelonious Monk Institute's Composition Competition. Weiss' expert tailoring fully exploits the sonorous potential of the trumpet, alto saxophone and trombone front-line and a fully interactive rhythm section. El Camino blends south-of-the-border rhythms with an active bassline, vivid harmonies and a lithe, through-composed melody adorned by an introduction, interludes, coda and background figures adding spice to the improvised solos.
"What's going to drive jazz forward is a greater integration of composition and improvisation rather than the same old head-solos-head format," says Weiss. "I want to keep the music fresh and interesting."
About the Artist
Weiss has recorded three previous albums as a leader, all of which have been hailed by the critics. His debut, "Presenting Michael Weiss" (Criss Cross) was named a Stereo Review Best Recording of the Month in October 1987. "Power Station" (DIW) made the Fanfare Critic's Want List in 1998 and was a Top Five pick in Jazz Times in 1998. "Milestones" (SteepleChase) received four and a half stars from Downbeat.
Most recently, Weiss' composition skills were recognized by Chamber Music America, which awarded him a prestigious New Works: Creation and Presentation grant for 2003.