David Weiss – Breathing Room
(Fresh Sound/New Talent – 2002)
by Eugene Holley, Jr.
Two decades ago, if you said that Freddie Hubbard, who once billed himself as “the second greatest trumpet player in the world” would almost fade from the scene by the 21st century, you’d be called crazy. But years of hard blowing, fast living and illness almost put him down for the count. In his absence, a new generation of trumpeters, from Wynton Marsalis and Roy Hargrove to Rusell Gunn, have taken the spotlight.
Though not as acclaimed as those aforementioned artists, the New York-based trumpeter David Weiss, a member of the under-heralded New Jazz Composer’s Octet, is not only the equal of his contemporaries, but he has musical and personal ties to Hubbard. Weiss and the NJCO recorded the 2001 release New Colors, which marked Hubbard’s cautious return to the scene, and Weiss’s bravura sound comes from Freddie’s influential Hub-Caps.
On his debut CD as a leader, Breathing Room, Weiss delivers a recording knee-deep in the post-hard bop, Blue Note-era 1960s era. Weiss is backed by two NJCO bandmates: the inventive ex-Betty Carter pianist Xavier Davis and the rock-steady bassist Dwayne Burno. The group also includes alto and tenor saxophonists Craig Handy and Marcus Strickland and his brother, E.J. on drums. The material is classic stuff: There’s Wayne Shorter’s foreboding, neo-blues “Armageddon” and the rarely heard “Those Who Sit and What,” along with “The Kickback” the labyrinthine successor to Joe Henderson’s number, “The Kicker.” The rest of the CD contains a number of original compositions, particularly the turbo-charged “Parallel Sonorities,” which extend and elaborate on the ’60s sounds with a fresh turn-of-the-century approach. Weiss has everything that makes a jazz trumpeter great: a full-bodied sound, a complete command of the instrument, a thorough knowledge of the tradition and an intelligent application of those talents. He may be lesser known of the current trumpet kings, but this splendid recording will change that.