Intrepid drummer Dan Weiss' multi segment Fourteen is not a suite in the classical sense of the word. Although spread out over seven sections the vibrant and fluid composition flows seamlessly throughout the entire album without, distinct traditional movements.
"Part 5" for instance takes off with trombonists' Jacob Garchik and Ben Gerstein's baroque refrains that thematically stem from the percussive climax that ends its predecessor. It closes with haunting vocals embellishing the melody that spill over to the sixth cut.
The latter evolves into a cinematic piece as Weiss' restless beats and pianist Jacob Sacks' cascading notes build an expectant mood together with altoist David Binney's and tenorist Ohad Talmor's intriguing, overlapping monologues. The tune ends with a passionate and delightfully riotous mix of soaring, wailing vocalese, expansive saxophones and rumbling rhythms.
The title refers to the size of the ensemble comprising of voices, woodwind, brass, keys, various string instruments and percussion. Weiss deftly leads this large-ish group through densely woven, overlapping motifs that serve as niduses for individual spontaneous expressions.
On "Part 2" guitarist Miles Okazaki's pensive acoustic strings sparkle in the silence that often surrounds it. Occasionally their acerbic sound bounces off of various other instruments like keyboardist Matt Mitchell's eerie Glockenspiel. Guitar fades out to make room for Weiss' stimulating, angular drum work surrounded by atmospheric and elegantly orchestrated wordless singing. Okazaki reenters with a thrilling solo that subtly utilizes silent pauses and bridges the track to the one that follows. Ardent saxophone duet with Levantine hints marks "Part 3."
This exciting and provocative record closes on a mystical tone. Enveloped in stillness, the resonant piano chimes and echoes with a Zen melancholy. The ethereal chants of the female choir backed by an instrumental drone enhance this spirituality. Harpist Katie Andrews' captivating eastern flavored extemporization brings the disc to a memorable conclusion.
Fourteen is an imaginative and explorative work that sublimely balances innovation with accessibility and sonic experimentation with a strong melodic sense. It is yet another reason why Weiss is one of the most exciting artists of the modern music scene.
Track Listing: Part One; Part Two; Part Three; Part Four; Part Five; Part Six; Part Seven.
Personnel: Dan Weiss: drums, vocal recitation; Jacob Sacks: piano; Matt Mitchell: glockenspiel, piano,
organ; Thomas Morgan: acoustic bass; Miles Okazaki: electric guitar, classical guitar; David
Binney: alto saxophone; Ohad Talmor: tenor saxophone; Jacob Garchik: trombone, tuba; Ben
Gerstein: trombone; Lana Cencic: voice; Judith Berkson: voice.
Maria Neckam: Voice
Katie Andrews: Harp
Stephen Cellucci: Percussion