CD: David Weiss

David Weiss & Point Of Departure, Snuck In (Sunnyside). Trumpeter Weiss's heart may be in the 1960s, but he and his young band operate very much in the present. His solo style is largely a bequest from the late Freddie Hubbard, with whom he worked closely as a player and arranger. His repertoire here consists of pieces by Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill and Tony Williams, plus two from the neglected Detroit trumpeter Charles Moore. Weiss, tenor saxophonist J.D. Allan, guitarist Nir Felder, bassist … [Read more...]

CD: Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding, Chamber Music Society (Heads Up). The contrarian impulse is to briskly walk away from hype about the latest sensation du jour, but critical duty says, listen anyway. In Spalding's case, I'm glad I listened. She is an accomplished bassist with depth of tone, penetrating timbre and good note choices. Her singing has clarity and lightness. She is consistently in tune. Spalding writes and arranges well. With a small string ensemble, piano, drums and percussion, she interprets … [Read more...]

CD: Joe Sardaro

Joe Sardaro, Lost In The Stars (Catch My Drift). Last year, I mentioned in a review of Joe Sardaro's Protégé that the singer's 1986 vinyl album Lost In The Stars had never been reissued. Now, happily, it is on CD. Sardaro recruited high-level backing for his first recording; drummer Shelly Manne, bassist Monte Budwig, guitarist Al Viola, saxophonist/flutist Sam Most and pianist John Knapp. To quote my 1987 Jazz Times review of the LP, "A light baritone without spectacular range or notable … [Read more...]

DVD: Jimmy And Percy Heath

Jimmy And Percy Heath, Jazz Master Class (Artists House). In 2004, the year before bassist Percy Heath died, he and his saxophonist/composer brother Jimmy appeared in John Snyder's master class series at New York University. A pair of DVDs captures them in several stunning duets, critiquing student performances of Jimmy's tunes and being interviewed by author Gary Giddins. We also see pre- and post-master class conversations with the students, transcriptions of solos rolling across the screen as … [Read more...]

Book: Harvey Pekar

Harvey Pekar, American Splendor: The Life And Times Of Harvey Pekar (Ballantine Books). Pekar, who died this month, mesmerized readers by transforming his ordinary life into comics for adults. Pekar wrote the stories. R. Crumb and a crew of other artists illustrated them to Pekar's specifications, in living black and white. His work led to the movie of the same name. I'm not sure that I'd go as far as some critics who compare him to Chekhov, but I'm not sure that I wouldn't. If Pekar's gritty … [Read more...]