Peter Weniger: Now!

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This CD is a bit of an oddity. Peter Weniger had assembled some stellar players from the jazz-funk world to record ‘Point of Departure’ at the Lettercollum Studio in Ireland in 2014, and I assume that at some point during the session they left the tape rolling to catch an hour long jam (well, 54 minutes 48 seconds of spontaneous playing). While ‘Point of Departure’ has a very smooth feel to it, it also has some little electronic touches (particularly in the introduction to the pieces). This CD is the five players playing it straight.

The recording features three veteran (OK, in their 50s) players from the jazz-funk scene: David Haynes has played with people as diverse as Stanley Jordan and Prince, Klaus Fischer has played with Chaka Khan and Lee Ritenour (among others), Don Grusin has played with Shakatak. So it is no surprise that the session kicks off with a funky bass line and some jinking piano chords. Weniger comes at around 9 minutes when the band are cooking at a nice temperature. From there the session heats up and cools down, every 10 minutes or so, things slow and Weniger works through a relaxed solo before the band rejoin him and build up again. This gives the recording an ebb and flow in which nothing overwhelms the listener, but there is always something about to happen. Some of the themes echo the pieces on ‘Point of Departure’ (without duplicating them). The pacing of these slower and faster parts of the overall recording give an impression of some over-arching intent, but the playing feels completely unscripted and the players bounce off each other in a way that is very infectious. Given their experience, it is not surprising that the hooks and developments are firmly rooted in the jazz-funk idiom. But what it is so refreshing about the session is that nothing feels stuck in cliché (and, let’s face it, jazz-funk as a musical form is chock full of cliché) and the recording feels like the band really are inventing the pieces as they are playing them.

The sleeve notes begin with the statement ‘To be in the moment! Now!’ and these exclamation marks convey the enthusiasm of Weniger and his fellow musicians.



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Peter Weniger feat. Don Grusin
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