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Best Weston: G. Calvin Weston’s Greatest Hits

A sampler of the work of the versatile drummer

James Blood Ulmer's "Are You Glad to Be in America?"
Ornette Coleman's "Virgin Beauty"
The Lounge Lizards' "Queen of All Ears" album
Free Form Funky Freqs' "Urban Mythology, Volume One" album
G. Calvin Weston's "Play Out Loud" album
James Blood Ulmer, G. Calvin Weston, Jamaaladeen Tacuma at the Jazz Standard in NYC, 2004

Yesterday we featured Shaun Brady’s profile of the great drummer G. Calvin Weston. Here are some prime examples of his work

Are You Glad to Be in America?
(Rough Trade, 1980)

Weston’s experiences as a North Philly funk prodigy and as the backbeat of Ornette Coleman’s electric experiments converged on this, the opening salvo of his original 13-year run with Ulmer. The album, on which his drumming is paired with that of Ronald Shannon Jackson, combines free jazz, blues, rock and funk with simultaneous feeling and complexity.

Virgin Beauty
(Portrait, 1988)

Weston’s final album with Coleman is the saxophonist’s strangest hybrid of harmolodics and funk, with a bizarre beauty that teeters on the precipice of chaos. Presaging the drummer’s jam-band future, Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia joins the already-crowded double-everything line-up on three tracks.

Queen of All Ears
(Strange & Beautiful, 1998)

Saxophonist-composer John Lurie’s hipster-jazz ensemble took its final bow with this release, and Weston’s mutant beats can be counted as its still-vital heartbeat. Lurie’s bohemian cool is inflected with more than a little Prime Time free-funk, alongside excursions into European abstraction and pure groove.

Urban Mythology, Volume One
(Thirsty Ear, 2008)

Only a rhythm tandem with the longstanding relationship and shared background of Weston and Jamaaladeen Tacuma could so intuitively lock into such deep grooves at the spur of the moment. The debut of their collective trio with guitarist Vernon Reid is a completely improvised collection of spiky free-funk jams.

Play Out Loud
(G. Calvin Weston, 2012)

One of three simultaneous releases marking Weston’s long-overdue return to recording as a leader, this is the purest expression of the drummer’s aesthetic-flowing, grooving and exceedingly loose-limbed. He also picks up the microphone for a surprisingly tender and soulful vocal tribute to his late son Dominic on “I Miss You.”

Originally Published