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Walt Weiskopf Quartet: Recorded Live April 8, 2008: Koger Hall, University of South Carolina

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This live set marks tenor saxophonist Walt Weiskopf’s first concert release, which may come as news to some listeners given his long and prolific recording career. But more significantly, the album is dedicated to-and animated by-the late drummer Tony Reedus, who died of a pulmonary embolism less than a year after sharing the Koger Hall stage with Weiskopf, pianist Renee Rosnes and bassist Paul Gill. Reedus was 49.

Though not originally intended for commercial release, Recorded Live certainly deserves the exposure it will now receive, and not merely because the album serves as a vivid reminder of Reedus’ multiple talents. This is very much a quartet session, after all-cohesive and interactive, vibrant and lyrical, the whole greater than the sum of its parts. From the outset, it’s easy to understand why Weiskopf so enjoyed playing with Reedus. The two make for a kinetic pairing on “Man of Many Colors,” a Weiskopf-penned burner fueled by Reedus’ tumultuous energy and drive. (Then again, the drummer is no less resourceful when the spotlight shines on Rosnes’ cascading chromaticism.)

Reedus and Gill swing effortlessly on the Weiskopf charmer “Little Minor Love Song,” a breezy showcase for Rosnes, and later, with brushes in hand, the drummer contributes to a glimmering and soulful rendition of “Blame It on My Youth.” The performance ends on an exultant note, courtesy of “Breakdown,” another Weiskopf tune. It’s charged by the tenor saxophonist’s passionate tone, harmonic agility and rhythmic force, with Reedus generating sleek propulsion and swift, spirited exchanges.

Originally Published