It's been a long wait for an album led by pianist Michael Weiss, but it's worth waiting for. The 39-year-old Weiss is an excellent pianist who plays bebop and hard-bop lines with elegance and precision. He has a deft touch and swinging rhythmic sense, with the right dollop of funk and soul.
Weiss' main association has been a decade with Johnny Griffin's working group, and he's also gained experience playing with legends such as Junior Cook. Steeped with this experience and intense assimilation of both the more familiar and obscure hard bop repertory, he is compelling to hear in live performance.
This album captures some of that flavor, but the focus is more on Weiss' writing. The meat of the album is six originals, which, with the exception of the laconic "Soul Journey," are thoughtful and swinging exercises, songs that lend to fine blowing, and that are formful and dynamic enough to sound as if they were standards of the genre. The date also includes a fast moving and vigorous "Some Other Spring," and the ballad feature "Alone Together".
The quartet includes some of the finer younger-generation New York musicians; Eric Alexander, whose tenor sax is virile and soulful, yet lithe enough to convey Weiss' romanticism, and John Webber on bass and Joe Farnsworth at the drums, in the pocket and perfect for this groove.