Giving a Great 1960s Jazz Album Its Groove Back


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Jazz repertory has a reputation for bigness. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra is an institutionally supported big band, as were some other noble past endeavors. But theres another, leaner tier of jazz repertory, the product of musicians consumed by a labor of love, or maybe a love of labor. Either way, David Weiss is one of those.

Mr. Weiss, a trumpeter, arranger and composer, leads a handful of groups that explore overlapping areas of interest: chiefly 1950s hard bop and 1960s post-bop, much of it touched by the hand and mind of Wayne Shorter. (Mr. Weiss also runs the New Composers Octet, which plays original music in the same lineage.) Every now and then his focus further narrows to a single point in the jazz continuum, like the early-60s Colpix album Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers Play Selections From the New Musical Golden Boy, the subject of his current run at the Iridium.

Golden Boy is a relative obscurity in Blakeys oceanic catalog, and a legitimate rarity: never reissued on CD, never available on iTunes, it was recently listed on eBay for $39.99. It features an imposing 11-piece band with arrangements by a few of the groups sidemen, including Mr. Shorter, the pianist Cedar Walton and the trombonist Curtis Fuller. It was ripe for rediscovery, in other words, and Mr. Weiss has thrown himself into the task, transcribing charts and enlisting top players, including Mr. Fuller.

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