Eminent sideman and solo artist, pianist James Weidman bridges modern mainstream with the outside schema on his fourth date as a leader. His support structure rings like an all-star team with multi-reedman Marty Ehrlich, trombonist Ray Anderson and other notables who bestow a charter consisting of intuitiveness and jubilation. Putting aside his technical excellence, Weidman shines as a formidable composer, where the sum of the moving parts translates into a persuasive listening experience.
Weidman attains a near-flawless balance, consisting of eloquence, power, pop and sizzle to complement his melodic gifts. Here, the ensemble imparts a buoyant line of attack. On Drop Zone, Anderson's blustery trombone solo swaths a course for Ehrlich's endearing alto sax lines atop the rhythm section's agile mid-tempo grooves. Moreover, they intersperse edgy overtones with windblown thematic ventures to summon the best of numerous musical worlds.
Razz 2.0 looms as one of the more interesting pieces, featuring the frontline's complex unison choruses, hedged in between Anderson's punchy statements and a whimsical aura. In effect, the band emits a mini-big band stylization, since the music is engineered upon a layered approach. Yet Weidman's melodica phrasings cast a folksy tint into the bridge. Then he switches gears by driving matters into a fast-paced, jazz-calypso motif, leading to a climactic finale.
Vibist Jay Hoggard mans a relaxed and sleek swing vamp, artfully contrasted by Weidman on Theme For You, as the band gels, yet maintains a fluid and unobtrusive gait. Then the pianist digs deep from within on the tender ballad When We Met. In sum, Weidman has certainly fashioned a sure-fired winner that hopefully, will not go unnoticed.