Old school is a fairly common term on jazz from the late 1960's. During this turbulent decade jazz experienced what may arguably be the most influential growth and development of any genre of music to date. Venture Inward is not "old school" is the strictest or perhaps literal sense of the word but instead a sonic exploratory of some of the most innovative music of that particular point in time combined with some intriguing ideas of perhaps how some of this music may have been developed to a more influential dynamic. A sonic exploratory of what might have been. Joe Lovano attempted this with a Charlie Parker release last year and with mixed reviews. Weiss takes advantage of odd time signatures, evocative rhythms and a harmonic direction that while seemingly subtle by nature is in fact deceptively complex in presentation.
This formidable quintet includes young tenor minimalist J.D. Allen, guitar wizard Nir Felder, a rising star in bassist Luques Curtis and holding down the drum chair we find Jamire Williams. Together this quintet easily rises to the top of heap when it comes to working quartets with this academic yet incredibly open ended look at some great music with most being in excess of 45 years of age. Venture Inward opens with a look at the Herbie Hancock piece "I Have A Dream" yet ironically David Weiss & Point of Departure have no pianist. Felder and Weiss open with a more traditional call and response and are quickly joined by J.D. Allen. The comp work by Felder gives the illusion of the rhythmic pulse that is Herbie Hancock but adds a more contemporary layer of texture. "Black Comedy" is a tune from the legendary Tony Williams that kicks off with Allen and Weiss and while they hand out in an odd meter they avoid the pretentious attitude of the self indulgent academia that seems to plague some younger players. The improvisational display put on by Allen is a master class in playing from the soul and J.D. Allen has never sounded better. Showing versatility and great intimacy the tune "Pax" is a complex ballad where the group dynamic comes to the front without the need for Weiss to feel as though he needs to drive the train on every tune. Nir Felder's solo is open ended and bordering on the abstract while remaining surprisingly accessible. Luques Curtis and Jamire Williams are rock solid in rounding out the rhythm section and adding the subtle nuances needed to make a good album better and a better album become great.
Intense yet subtle. Dynamic yet subdued. David Weiss & Point of Departure take what some might consider the classic Impulse sound and reinvent tunes long since forgotten and allow them to have a second chance at life roughly forty years later.
An exemplary performance by a working band that has the rare ability to hit one on both the visceral and cerebral level.
4 out of 5 Stars.
Tunes: I Have A Dream; Black Comedy; Number 4; Venture Inward; Pax; Snuck In.
Personnel: David Weiss: trumpet; J.D. Allen: tenor saxophone; Nir Felder: guitar; Luques Curtis: bass; Jamire Williams: drums.