Dan Weiss: drums, tabla; Thomas Morgan: acoustic bass; Matt Mitchell: keyboards, piano, vibraphone; Jacob Sacks: piano; Miles Okazaki: guitars; David Binney: alto saxophone; Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone; Ohad Talmor: tenor saxophone; Jacob Garchik: trombone, tuba; Ben Gerstein: trombone; Stephen Cellucci: percussion; Katie Andrews: harp; Anna Webber: flutes; Judith Berkson: vocals; Lana Is: vocals; Jen Shyu: vocals.
Dan Weiss, a prominent element in past projects of Rudresh Mahanthappa, David Binney, and Rez Abbasi, claims more visibility as a bandleader, and “Sixteen: Drummers Suite” is a bold move in that direction.
The opening track exhibits 56 seconds of his drumming skills, inviting us to the following six tracks, each of them carrying the name of an iconic drummer in the title.
“Elvin”, inspired by Elvin Jones, kicks in with a jumpy bass/drums groove adorned with cyclic piano lines, a few dissonant keyboard effects, vocals, horns, claps, and Okazaki’s guitar, which finishes the song in style.
Max Roach is remembered in “Max”, a tune that continues delivering similar sounds of those showed by its predecessor. This time, however, the vocal component gets even bigger salience while Weiss and Morgan work on surprising rhythmic variations.
Invoking the unique Tony Williams, “Tony” is undoubtedly my favorite composition. It starts with Morgan’s bass intro and features a kinetic alto sax duel between Binney and Zenon, a shifting keyboard solo by Mitchell, and ends up in the melancholic piano of Jacob Sacks.
The percussive “Philly Joe” reaches epic proportions and culminates with another tense interaction between Mitchell and Sacks while “Ed”, a 15-minute piece that acknowledges Ed Blackwell, follows up the complex-yet-malleable moves of the previous pieces.
02 – Elvin ► 04 – Tony ► 05 – Philly Joe