With his sextet, David Weiss has found a very attractive middle path in jazz. The sextet focuses on Weiss's own compositions, which, far from traditional, reach toward a modern sound free of deconstruction. The band, both as a whole and individually, exhibit tremendous explosive power.
Weiss's piece “Stalker” kick-started the show at Smoke Jazz. Weiss's bright trumpet solo was followed by an equally powerful solo from alto player Myron Walden. Underscoring both solos was the haunting piano of David Bryant which carried a dreamy feel throughout the piece. Combined with unison lines book-ending the piece, Bryant's atmosphere served to create a unity which contained the explosive solos.
Their next piece in the set of four was “The Mirror”, an original piece from Weiss's last album. This piece continued to make the rounds of solos, featuring tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene on his second laid-back solo of the evening. Walden came back to balance Greene out with an energetic solo that was, at times, practically a duet with bassist Linda Oh. Peeking out momentarily from her mostly supportive role, she created some lovely complimentary moments with Walden. Near the end, Bryant showed off with a melodically complex and tense solo that kept both the audience and his band mates on their toes.
“MJ”, from the sextet's new album “When Words Fail”, had a markedly different feel from the first two pieces, featuring close, biting harmonies that one could hear crunch. “MJ” was a true standout in a night of entertaining music, taking listeners away from time and place for a moment. Ending the night was “Kickback”, an older tune of Weiss's. A great way to end the set, “Kickback” had a more traditional form and really showed off the energy of drummer E.J. Strickland, who sometimes looked like he was about to dance off his set. His gentle humor ran throughout the set, giving the music further lift.