Cory Weeds Quintet featuring David Hazeltine – It’s Easy To Remember – CellarLive CL031716, 52:58 ****:

An enthusiastic session from understanding and open-minded partners.

(Cory Weeds – tenor saxophone; David Hazeltine – piano; Joe Magnarelli – trumpet; Paul Gill – acoustic bass; Jason Tiemann – drums)

Here comes Cory Weeds. In what surely must be some kind of record for the issuance of albums by a Canadian tenor saxophonist, It’s Easy To Remember is the latest addition to Weeds’ substantial discography. Recorded live at Small’s Jazz Club in New York City on March 17, 2016, Weeds has surrounded himself with some top-notch New York-based musicians including the savvy, thoughtfully tasteful pianist David Hazeltine.

In a session songbook of the known, nearly known, and unknown compositions, the band has an eclectic mix of numbers with which to display their inventiveness and curiosity. Starting out with a Kenny Drew piece, “With Prestige,” which has an entertaining bebop frame, the band demonstrates their exploratory spirit. Each member takes a piece of the action with Weeds showing his meaningful command of the saxophone, as Hazeltine delivers some long structural lines on the piano. Bassist Gill also dives in with a brief arco solo.

“Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” was written by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach in 1933 for their musical Roberta. In today’s environment, smoking is not only unhealthy, it is frowned upon and driven into alleyways. Nevertheless the song continues to find adherents. The samba-driven version offered here is persuasively bright with Weeds, trumpeter Magnarelli, and Hazeltine presenting their ingenuity.

The tenor sax/trumpet quintet formation has a long-standing history in jazz with numerous examples such as Miles Davis/John Coltrane, Clark Terry/Johnny Griffin; Lee Morgan/Benny Golson and Blue Mitchell/Junior Cook. While the present iteration with Weeds and Magnarelli might not rank with those previously noted configurations, these two players have built a solid rapport. This is evidenced by the blistering opening line on the Ross Taggart original “Expose” where there are several strong bars of unison playing, which is again picked up later in the number.

The title track is the Rodgers & Hart standard “It’s Easy To Remember” which was arranged by David Hazeltine for the session. After a nifty introduction from Hazeltine, he has framed the tune as a showcase for the players to display their mettle. He structured his own efforts as a robust lead-in to the solos from Weeds and Magnarelli. Bassist Gill is also given some space to offer a few deep-toned bars.

Hazeltine’s own compositional talents are on display with the catchy “Bossa For All”. As the name implies, it has a fully assertive bossa beat that lends itself to the driving improvisational efforts from Magnarelli and Weeds. Hazeltine then comes in for several bars full of sparkling ideas, which then leads to a strong nimble-finger solo from bassist Gill. Some polished unison playing from Weeds and Magnarelli take the tune out.

An enthusiastic session from understanding and open-minded partners.

TrackList: With Prestige; Emily; Smoke Gets In Your Eyes; Expose; Candy Man; It’s Easy To Remember; Bossa For All; Kelp; The Mabe

—Pierre Giroux