I love guitar and Kenny Wessel is one of the main reasons I can point to as to why I play tenor saxophone. Outside of the obvious issues of dexterity and the ability to cross genres with a fluid grace and style that few posses. Over roughly the last six months I have had the pleasure to give my feedback on guitarists from Japan, Germany, Italy and the United States with Kenny Wessel and his Quartet as good if not better than most. Don't get me wrong as I have heard some amazing players but Wessel's versatility combined with the ability to move well past the "one note" status makes him a serious instrumentalist of note.
With a resume that includes but is not limited to Donald Fagen, Ornette Coleman and Arthur Prysock, Wessel has been a hot commodity on the New York jazz scene for years.
There are two things that makes Weights and Measures work so incredibly well. Wessel and tenor man Joel Frahm seem to have a harmonious if not harmonically induced chemistry. These two players push themselves with the rhythm section made up of Brad Jones on acoustic bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums and together they provide those subtle nuances that make Weights and Measures equal itself out. I would be remiss if I did not mention Peck Allmond on tenor saxophone on Swamp Meyna which is the opening tune. This may well be the finest outing of the well respected Frahm as well.
The second and perhaps most important intangible that allows for a stellar recording is diversity. The release features eight originals from Wessel, a cover from the great Ornette Coleman and then the influences of Wessel as a cultural byproduct of his own making take shape. "Bachut Acha" is an Indian inspired tune and dare I say one of the few that does not have me hitting "mute" or "skip." We have the more foot to the floor vibe of "The Speed of The Bass." Two personal favorites are a more open ended riff on some free jazz influences tunes "Miniature" and "Lullaby #2".
I would be less than honest if I did not mention Wessel reached out to me to share my thoughts on his most recent recording. Wessel is not the first and hopefully not the last artist to ask for my opinion. On occasion I have received the sonic equivalent of a train wreck, a total waste of my time not to mention the time, talent, and plastic used to make the compact disc in question (if they are not using those narly paper sleeves).
Critical remarks? Goose egg. None here (aside from the paper sleeve, sorry not all critics have gone green yet). A stealth like talent that could easily fly under the musical radar of most people not to mention publications. Easily one of the best for 2013!
Tracks: Swamp Meyna; Bahut Acha; Weights and Measures; Lullaby #2; The Speed Of The Bass; Miniature; Bone Dance; Lullay #1; City Living.
For a preview on CD Baby: