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Overdrive

4.2 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 10, 2014
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Tenor Saxophone sensation (and Steely Dan band member) Walt Weiskopf shifts into "Overdrive" on his first record for Posi-Tone by successfully combining a high-powered harmonic message and stunning lyricism into an amazing top fuel tour de force performance. Moving straight ahead through a course of his own original compositions, Weiskopf shines brightly on this sextet date with the incredible support of guitarist Yotam Silberstein, vibraphonist Behn Gillece, pianist Peter Zak, bassist David Wong, and drummer Donald Edwards. The entire session swings, surges and soars beyond the sonic stratosphere to reach new heights and delights.

Review

Walt Weiskopf is a "man of many colors," to take from the title of one of his previous recordings. The tenor saxophonist has been featured in the big bands of Buddy Rich and Toshiko Akiyoshi. His diverse sideman credits include work with Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan and Steve Smith's Jazz Legacy. His instruction books like "Intervallic Improvisation" have been used and recommended by saxophone greats James Moody and Michael Brecker for broadening the horizons of jazz improvisation. Weiskopf has passed his knowledge along as instructor at the Eastman School, Temple University, and starting this Fall at New Jersey City University. But to hear Walt Weiskopf play is simply the main event. His new recording, Overdrive, from Posi-Tone Records, provides us with an energized listen to the art of improvisation. He's assembled a sextet for his 13th recording as leader, with vibraphonist Behn Gillece, bassist David Wong, guitarist Yotam Silberstein, drummer Donald Edwards and pianist Peter Zak, featured on two previous Weiskopf outings, "See The Pyramid" and "Day In Night Out" (Criss Cross). "Overdrive" is made up of all Weiskopf originals save one. "The Path Is Narrow," with the opening statement in tandem from the leader and guitarist Silberstein, sets a wide open head bobbin' pace for pianist Zak to show his stuff. Weiskopf demonstrates his is a pent up house waiting to be heard. I suspect "Like Mike" to be a tribute to Michael Brecker. This original blisters with the tenorist setting a furious pace. The group delights in keeping up, with Silberstein showing his guitar mettle at the out. Walt shows us how pretty a tenor saxophone sounds on his "Jewel And A Flower". It gives the listener some soft pretty moments to ponder. "Night Vision" is a 20/20 listen to exploring what's ahead, though unknown, making us want to be part of the journey. The leader hands off to some nice moments with Gillece's vibraphone and Siberstein's guitar. Zak's piano chops are first rate. Bassist David Wong takes us further, showing this group knew the route all along. The angular title track, "Overdrive", with it's stop time intro shows the muscle of Weiskopf's playing, inventive chops cutting a path the rest of the musicians thoroughly enjoy taking. The relaxed feel of "Waltz For Dad" is a group dance, highlighted by Gillece's Bobby Hutcherson feel, leading into some further sax steps as piano, bass and drums show us some new moves too. "Four Horsemen" has these six riders at full speed, with Zak's piano in a gallop, the leader playing with abandon, Gillece's vibraphone neck and neck and the listener holding on for more. A "Manteca"-like riff opens "Midwinter Night's Dream." No cold feet here as Weiskopf's hearty blowing is surrounded by the fire of the vibraphonist and pianist. Wong's bottom and drummer Edwards make this dream come true. "I don't see a point for me doing a standard on a record unless there's some kind of different sound or spin to it," Weiskopf has said before. "What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life" was composed by Michel Legrand with lyrics from Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Weiskopf's arrangement gives this gem a latin feel for the group to cover some new ground. Once again the saxophonist shows his agility in making a standard his own. "No Biz" closes the date with a straight ahead blowing statement, the kind a band plays when they want you to stay for the next set. I'm sure you will. "Overdrive" comes out June 10th, just as Weiskopf gears up for a summer long tour with Steely Dan. --Gary Walker, WBGO music director

If ever there was an apropos name for recording, "Overdrive" is the one. The brand new CD by saxophonist/composer Walt Weiskopf, his debut on Posi-Tone, is powered by the rhythm section of Donald Edwards (drums), David Wong (bass) and Peter Zak (piano). The leader, who sticks to tenor sax for this date, also utilizes the talents of Yotam Silberstein (guitar) and label mate Behn Gillece (vibraphone). The program powers out of the gate with the first of 9 original compositions, "The Path Is Narrow." The saxophonist heads straight to hard-bop territory but, to his credit, all the songs have solid melody lines. His insistent attack, powerful tone and forceful solos stand out on pieces such as "Like Mike" (the lightning fast melody line will pin you to the chair), the title track (where Edwards' cymbals set a torrid pace) and "No Biz" (where Weiskopf delivers a Coltrane-esque solo and Silberstein channels Charlie Christian). The blend of Gillece's vibes with the guitar, sax and piano on "Night Vision" stands out - the mix is so clear each instrument stands out. The program includes several lovely ballads. "Jewel And A Flower" opens with a lovely melody and is notable for the harmony created by Zak's left hand and the bass. The vibes serve to color the melody and frees Wong to create counterpoint to the sax. The blend of guitar and saxophone on the theme of "Waltz For Dad" fills out the sound, leaving both the piano and vibes to create the sumptuous background. The one non-orginal track, Michel LeGrand's "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life", a piece one might expect to hear as a ballad, is taken at a a medium tempo, giving the song a lighter feel. Walt Weiskopf released 9 CDs for Gerry Teekens' Criss Cross label (10, if you also count the season he co-led with saxophonist And Fusco), recordings that featured ensembles of various sizes, especially the 2 nonet albums. "Overdrive" displays his craftsmanship as both a musician and composer (his compositions all have very good melodies). This is good music to play with the windows open, bright and appealing. --Richard B. Kamins, Step Tempest

In his twenties during the 80s, sax ace Walt Weiskopf was already good enough to play for Buddy Rich, Toshiko Akiyoshi and Frank Sinatra, but he s better known as being a member of Steely Dan s touring band since 2003, and was prominent on that band s last album, Everything Must Go. That s him with the memorable aside that kicks off the title song, a Steely Dan saxophone moment the ranks alongside ones by Wayne Shorter, Phil Woods, Pete Christlieb and Chris Potter. Weiskopf has been more than a valuable sideman, he s been a composer and leader in his own right at least since his debut Simplicity in 93, and he s since produced a string of solid albums in the post-bop vein, including his last one, a live document we savored called Walt Weiskopf Quartet: Live. Three years after that, Weiskopf is back with his 14th long player, his first for Posi-Tone Records that he calls Overdrive (out June 10, 2014). If you know about Weiskopf and about Posi-Tone, you know that this is a match made in heaven. The label has a reputation for issuing jazz records of the crisp, melodic and swinging straight-ahead kind, and that s this saxophonist s specialty. Save for a lissome, waltzing cover of Michel Legrand s ballad What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life? , Overdrive it s all sturdy, engaging Weiskopf compositions, full of well-considered updates on the classic bop form. That means plenty of rapid, twisting and sharp heads played in unison, such as the ones that launch Like Mike, Four Horsemen and No Biz They re typically followed by Weiskopf tearing off into solos that prowess, fragility and nuance, often in the proud tradition of both Rollins and Coltrane but with own chunky tone. Weiskopf has good choices in who to pair up with on those unison runs. Guitarist Yotam Silberstein and the vastly underrated vibraphonist Behn Gillece do a great job in not only taking turns riding shotgun on those wild rides up and down scales but also push the leader with accomplished solos of their own, along with pianist Peter Zak. David Wong and Donald Edwards supply rock solid rhythm section support. The post-bop formula is tweaked enough to accommodate some pleasant change ups like the swinging minor key blues number Night Vision, the four movement Waltz For Dad that features some unusual chord changes, and especially the title song. Overdrive has enough rich complexity in the intro alone to leave even his erstwhile employers Walter Becker and Donald Fagen impressed. The main body of song has a rock feel to it, mostly in its gait, but also found in the rough edges of Silberstein guitar solo. Did I mention that Weiskopf is also an author? He s written a half dozen books on advanced improvisation. But for demonstration purposes, it s best to spin up one his records and Overdrive is a fine place to start. --S. Victor Aaron, Something Else!

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Product details

  • Audio CD (June 10, 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Posi-Tone Records
  • ASIN: B00JV9ZYC0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,180 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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