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Dan Weiss: Fourteen

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A stirrer of jazz and ethnic styles as an accompanist for such wide-ranging artists as Miguel Zenón, Rez Abbasi and Joel Harrison, drummer Dan Weiss steps out here as a leader with his most ambitious effort: a seven-part, through-composed work for 14 pieces. A feast of jazz and new-music sounds, Fourteen, his fourth album as a leader, doesn’t connect styles as much as shrewdly fling them at each other, resulting in a work that is as continually surprising as it is satisfying.

The soaring wordless vocals of the wonderful newcomer Lana Cencic (a native of Croatia), Judith Berkson and Maria Neckam suddenly give way to an eruption of tenor saxophone, courtesy of Ohad Talmor. The breathy choir of trombonists Jacob Garchik and Ben Gerstein and alto saxophonist David Binney sets the stage for Miles Okazaki’s heated electric guitar. There are lyrical passages from pianist Jacob Sacks and glockenspiel and organ effects from a second keyboardist, Matt Mitchell. Sometimes the instruments seem to be imitating the voices, which enter the music as if through wide-open windows on a spring day.

With a cast including bassist Thomas Morgan and harpist Katie Andrews, Weiss has everything he needs to create a tapestry of beauty and urgency. As ever, his drumming is alive with possibilities: rhythmic, textural, tonal. Fourteen is seamlessly informed by the Indian beat cycles of which he is a young master, having studied with the great tabla player Pandit Samir Chatterjee. In the end, Sacks’ plaintive notes carry this 38-minute work to its dreamy conclusion, gently prodded by earth tones and Indian strings. You may want it to keep going.

Originally Published