Tenor and strings, a sublime mix…
Cory Weeds – With Strings: What is there to say – Cellar Music Group CM 110620 – 48:51 – ****1/2
Whenever I hear about a new “saxophone with strings” jazz release, I am excited and look forward to hearing the release. There has always been an intrigue about the saxophone and strings combination. It goes back to the iconic Charlie Parker and strings album from the 1950s. Parker had turned the jazz scene on its ear with his bop prowess on the horn. When he recorded his album with strings, it became the early standard to judge future Sax with Strings LPs.
Over the years many saxophonists have taken on this task joyfully. Some succeed, and others don’t quite measure up. Often times it is not the musician themselves that causes the problem. It may be the arrangements, the song choice, or most often the strings are too saccharine. They may even dominate the sound mix , and fail to provide proper support for the leader. It is a tempting task for a saxophonist, however, well into their career, to contemplate a project of this magnitude.
Cory Weeds, the Canadian jazz entrepreneur, is up to the task on his just released CD, What is There To Say. Cory has taken on challenges throughout his career. Whether it be taking on jazz programming for a Vancouver, B.C. Club, working with the “jazz detective”, Zev Feldman, on previously unreleased archival jazz recordings (Reel to Real label), or running his own label, Cellar Music; Weeds helps keep the flame burning for jazz fans.
On this recording, Cory is teamed with pianist, Phil Dwyer, bassist, John Lee, and drummer, Jesse Cahill. Dwyer both produced and arranged the eight tracks. The song list is a mixture of three originals, a Gershwin tune, a few lesser known tracks, plus a hip mix of Duke Pearson’s “The Phantom,” with “The In Crowd.”
The arrangements are lush, the strings magnify the mood rather than distract, and the sound stage is full and vibrant.
Cory’s “Waltz for Someone Special” is a track made for a string arrangement, as his horn is both mellow and swinging, and the strings provide an accent that is just right, never overbearing. “Alana Marie” is sumptuous, while “I Wish You Love” would be right at home on a 1950s romantic movie soundtrack.
The strings soar over Weeds’ tenor on “Love is Wild,” with a bit of a Latin flair. Vernon Duke’s title track can bring on a misty eye as its theme can bring on memories of a prior love. Ending with Gershwin’s “There’s a Boat Leavin’ Soon for New York” is a wise choice, as its melody is both jaunty, and leaves a pleasant vibe.
This is a tenor sax with strings release to treasure, and will be one to add to your list of a favorite jazz idiom. Well done!!
Cory Weeds – tenor saxophone
Phil Dwyer – producer, arranger, piano
John Lee – bass
Jesse Cahill – drums
Cam Wilson, Llowyn Ball, Elyse Jacobson, Molly MacKinnon, Jiten Bearisto, Madeline Hocking, Meredith Bates, Andrea Siradze – violins
John Kastelic, Genevieve MacKay – violas
Finn Manniche, Doug Gorkoff – cello
Maggie Hasspacher – bass
Waltz for Someone Special
I Wish You Love
The Phantom/ The In Crowd
Love is Wild
What is There to Say
There’s a Boat Leavin’ Soon for New York
For more information, please visit the artists website: