As a professional musician, guitarist Danny Weis has been on the fast track of things to come since 1966. As a founding member of the rock group Iron Butterfly, his patented skills not only helped propel the band to stellar heights as one of the most phenomenal groups of their time, Dan also honed his skills with other groups as well. Since the demise of Iron Butterfly, he has performed solo and played with the likes of Ray Charles, Rhinoceros, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix, The Everly Brothers, The Rascals, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper and a host of other notable artists.
With that being said, it seems a bit uncanny to find Danny recording his first solo smooth jazz album. With a cadre of some of the finest musicians in Toronto, Canada, Danny Weis has released Sweet Spot on the Marshmellow Record label. As it stands, this debut effort is filled with 16 tracks of what can be considered as insightful, across the board-stylized music, all of which are geared towards a variety of music connoisseurs. Although Dan’s released is billed as a smooth jazz offering, Sweet Spot is best described as an augmented funk-oriented contemporary blues/jazz release, with an undertow of popular music attached in some areas. Either way, Danny has put together an album of immense artistic value and one that is full of surprises.
Inspired by his father, who himself is a guitarist, Danny Weis expanded upon father’s influences with Iron Butterfly and other rock groups, which shows up at various times on Sweet Spot. But his strong sense of melody, bluesy lines and a distinctive rhythmic style came as a result of lessons taught by Danny's father, country jazz guitarist Johnny Weis. Further influences came from famed jazz guitarist Barney Kessel, who was a frequent visitor to the Weis home. Danny, his father and Kessel would often play together during many of Barney’s visits. Danny’s versatility as a musician has been filled by any number of marked influences during his career, all of which are directly related to his tenure as a rock musician and an underlying love for the blues.
Sweet Spot follows a formula that has driven Danny’s success to unprecedented levels, which has allowed him the freedom to experiment on this album. With assistance from such notable musicians as Hammond B3 specialist Michael Fonfara, coupled with a horn section of renowned players such as Vern Dorge, Pol Coussee and Jason Logue, Danny Weis’ exuberance on Sweet Spot is a welcome respite from the mundane. On one cut in particular entitled "Gunslinger," the collective sound is so powerful, one is reminded of the dynamic horn section of the mighty Tower of Power. Danny has also displayed a penchant for melodic grooves with tunes such as "Keep The Faith," "It’s About Time," "Dinner At Nine" and "What Would It Take," which brings yet another perspective on Danny Weis. In fact, this album has a little bit of something for a every listening palate, including a vocal arrangement offered up by the likes of Byram Joseph, Latoya and Miranda
Sweet Spot is an album that carries listeners across a rainbow of flavorful musical excursions. Billed as a smooth jazz release, this CD runs the gamut of blues, jazz, pop and modern country music. Coming from a 60s-era stylized rocker, Danny Weis has stymied many of his contemporaries with this augmented jazz release. In spite of any skepticism one may for a former rocker turned jazz artist, Sweet Spot is all of that and a whole lot more. When examining the full array of what this recording has to offer, this album is definitely worth a listen. My only hope is that Danny did not put all of his inspiration on one 16-track release. The excitement he has generated with this debut solo effort should not hold his fan base hostage for to long waiting for his next release.