Cory Weeds – As Of Now – Cellar Live CL100313 53:00 ****:
(Cory Weeds – tenor sax; Harold Mabern – piano; John Webber – acoustic bass; Joe Farnsworth – drums)
There is the unfortunate tendency on the part of many Canadians, regardless of profession, to act less-than confident when encountering others of a similar qualification, who come from the United States to ply their trade in the Canadian environment. Not so with tenor saxophonist Cory Weeds. In this recording with the Harold Mabern Trio entitled As Of Now, Weeds plays with self-assurance and strength throughout this session, and is entitled to more than his share of atta-boys.
While Mabern is not considered a jazz composer of note, he does contribute three tunes to this album, the first of those is the opening track “Rakin’ And Scrapin’”. It has a solid soul groove with Mabern dealing himself a rock-steady hand, while Weeds reels off a solo that is filled with a blues feeling. Mabern is recognized as a hard-bop pianist with a soulful touch, and thus there are bound to be many complexities in any musical inter-action with him, but Weeds is more than up to the challenge.
The other two Mabern pieces are “Edward Lee” and “AON”. On the former, there is a repeating musical line in which Mabern takes the lead, then Weeds uses the frame to build his solo with strong block chord activity in the background. He then makes use of the full keyboard to develop his vision of the tune. In the latter composition, the tempo is taken lightning fast over a winding melody which keeps all the players engaged lest they get run over. Meanwhile, Farnsworth is churning out his intrepid drumming. Later on there are a series of breaks pitting Farnsworth, Mabern, and Weeds against each other, all which push to tune to the swinging conclusion.
Kurt Weill’s lovely ballad “Lost In The Stars” sets the table for some of Weeds best tenor work of the session as he shows an eloquent suppleness in his approach to the composition, keeps his note selection economical, all the while ensuring he is conveying the composer’s intent. In the background Mabern provides thoughtful support with his crisp chording. It may seem counter-intuitive to believe that a child’s nursery rhyme could offer the basis for a jazz excursion but that’s what “Pop! Goes The Weasel” does. As imagined by the band, the little ditty is simply a concept for a journey into a harmonic progression initiated by Mabern, starting with some massive two-hand chording. Weeds then seizes the opportunity to offer some well-thought-out notes that segues into a tasty bass solo from John Webber.
Cory Weeds has written the following about his sojourn with this band: “playing with Mabern was single-handedly the greatest thing that ever happened to me”. It shows.
TrackList: Rakin’And Scrapin’; Art Blakey,Art Blakey; Everybody Loves A Lover; Have You Met Miss Joan; Lost In The Stars; Edward Lee; Jamaica Plum Jam; Pop! Goes The Weasel; AON