Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ezra Weiss - Our Path To This Moment

Weiss is representative of a postmodern generation of young composers ( Quote: Thomas Conrad - Jazz Times) 
The Rob Scheps Big Band plays the music of Ezra Weiss
Hans Koert

Recently Ezra Weiss, a US piano player and, above all, a composer and arranger, released his sixth album, entitled Our Path to this Moment. To be honest - I'd never heard of him at this side of the ocean - time to get to learn more about this composer and play his latest album. 

 Ezra Weiss ( photo courtesy: Vanished Twins)

Ezra Weiss, who lives in Portland (Or), where he teaches at the Portland State University, worked as a band leader in clubs in New York City, Seattle and L.A.  He studied jazz composition at the Oberlin Conservatory and got a Masters in Jazz Piano at Queens College (NYC).
He became fascinated by jazz thanks to his father’s record collection, which contained music from Ray Charles, Carmen McRae up to Cannonball Adderley, but also a lot of records with music from Broadway productionsMusic that has a story in it - … and when I was a young kid I gravitated towards those the most because they had a story build in … 

 Special guest: trumpet player Greg Gisbert

As a bandleader he co-led the Courtney Bryan / Ezra Weiss Jazz Orchestra and  composed two musicals for children: Alice in Wonderland: a Jazz Musical and Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus  … The former was named as one of the Ten Best Cast Albums for 2009.

 (Roark Records)

His compositions are played by a lot of jazz men and ten years ago he recorded his first album The Five A.M. Strut with a group featuring Michael Mossman (trumpet), Antonio Hart (alto saxophone), Kelly Roberge ( tenor saxophone), Leon Lee Dorsey double bass and Billy Hart drums.  Ezra Weiss, who was the leader of that sextet, played the piano.
This first album of the young graduate was a surprise for the critics, who labeled it as an auspicious debut –  a knockout of a winner - as  an album that sparkles throughout. Great words for a debut album, isn't it? 
Since 2002 five more albums were released.

  Ezra Weiss ( photo courtesy: Vanished Twins)

A storyteller  ….. Ezra’s albums, five up to now, all contain a message – a story … about Greek mythology, or about the pursuit of happiness or about the life and music of Shirley Horn … all recorded in small groups …… His latest album was recorded by a 17-piece big band, led by Rob Scheps, who has won his spurs in the bands of Buddy Rich, Mel Lewis and Gil Evans. This album is, as it’s title tune reads, Our Path To This Moment ….. a recollection of ten years as a composer, in which Weiss own charts are performed by a real big band – A dream that comes true.
 Ezra Weiss and Rob Scheps in front of the Big Band

Personally I like the Sammy Cahn-Jule Styne composition, arranged by Ezra Weiss, It’s You Or No One, originally recorded by Sarah Vaughan with Richard Maltby’s Orchestra, December 1947, but made famous by Dexter Gordon at his 1961 Blue Note album Doin’ Allright

Enjoy this tune, It’s You Or No One as played by Rob Scheps Big Band, at the Vie de Bohème in Portland, (OR) the 2nd of February, 2012 a few days before the actual recording.

The Promise is another tracks that fascinated me, with a great alto solo by David Valdez.

If you have become anxious to hear more music by this great composer and arranger, try to find yourself a copy of his music. This album, Our Path to this Moment can be ordered directly at Ezra Weiss website.

Hans Koert
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Esra Weiss - a representative of a postmodern generation of young composers - Jazz Times reads, was graduated ten years ago and already released five albums with small groups. Now, ten years after his start, he arranged some of his compositions for Big Band and shows with his latest album Their Path to this Moment - The Rob Scheps Big Band plays the music of Ezra Weiss.

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