Keyboardist Steve Weingart and bassist/vocalist Renee Jones create "Dialogue" of hooks and heart


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Keyboardist Steve Weingart is having one of those years, a period in time that, once it has passed, he will be to look upon with not only fondness but also wonderment. He has just released his first collaboration with his wife, bassist/vocalist Renee Jones; moreover, the two are about to tour with G3. For those who aren't familiar with G3, guitar hero Joe Satriani performs throughout the world with fellow iconic axe men, this time including Steve Vai and Steve Lukather, the guitarist for Toto.

Weingart's connection with G3 is through his friendship with Lukather, one that began a few years ago. “I was sitting in with a really good jazz/Latin/funk trio with bassist Marco Mendoza and drummer Joey Heredia at a club named La Ve Lee, which is now out of business. That trio had quite a reputation and following in the L.A. area and was often frequented by many musicians. One night Steve Lukather came in the door, and I met him on the break between sets," Weingart recalled. “He was incredibly gracious with compliments, and I couldn't believe I was talking to this guy. I think it was a week later I got a call from him inviting me to do a tour in Japan with him and Nuno Bettencourt. We became really great friends and haven't stopped working together since then."

A listen to Weingart's new record with Jones, Dialogue, and it isn't difficult to see why a musician of Lukather's status would want to be associated with him. Dialogue is jazz fusion with hooks and a heart; the sunny glow of Weingart's synthesizers differentiates itself from the icy detachment that the genre is sometimes dismissed for. Weingart fell in love with classical music in his youth; however, as he become older he discovered the pioneering albums of keyboardists Joe Zawinul, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea. They expanded his vision of the instrument's possibilities. “By no means is that short list a discredit to any of the other burning keyboardists out there, but these three spoke to me the most," Weingart revealed. “Of those three, I'd have to say Zawinul is the biggest influence. I suspect that it may have to do with my earlier exposure to classical music, piano and symphonic. He had a way of creating textures with synthesizers that seem orchestral yet had some serious grooves simultaneously."

Nevertheless, even before Weingart felt the presence of those jazz icons, the music was already in his system, coursing through his veins shortly after infancy. “I showed a real proficiency at music at a very young age," Weingart remembered. “I was three-years-old when my mother discovered that I have perfect pitch. When she sat me at the piano, I used fingers to play the keys rather than my whole hand. I began figuring out that I could mimic the music I heard on TV at the piano. She thought that music would play a big part in my life and began giving me all the opportunities she could pull together. I guess you could say she decided for me."

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