Pianist and composer Michael Weiss returns with his quintet to the Village Vanguard onMarch 27 through April 1. Joining Weiss will be Steve Wilson, alto and soprano saxophones; Ugonna Okegwo, bass; George Fludas, drums; and Daniel Sadownick, percussion. Set times are 9 and 11 p.m.
The Village Vanguard is located at 178 Seventh Avenue South. For reservations and information: (212) 255-4037
Weiss made his critically acclaimed Village Vanguard debut as a leader last October, focusing on original material tailored specifically for his quintet. Reviewing the ensemble's performance, New York Times critic Nate Chinen praisedWeiss' composing, playing and bandleading skills, noting that he demonstrated a strong sense of leadership and organization." Chinen also wrote that Weiss was a confident and sometimes sparkling presence on piano" and that his playing exhibited sensitivity and logic, along with crisp control."
For twenty years, Weiss has performed several times at the Vanguard as a sideman with Johnny Griffin, Charles McPherson, Von Freeman, George Coleman, Joe Wilder and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Weiss' resum also includes work with Art Farmer, Frank Wess, Slide Hampton, Wynton Marsalis, Jimmy Heath, the Jazztet, Lou Donaldson, Junior Cook and Bill Hardman.
For the last decade Weiss has focused his performances almost exclusively on his compositions. In 1996 he formed a sextet which gave Weiss the opportunity to develop and expand his material. Performances included the Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival, the Stanford Jazz Festival, the Smithsonian Institution, NPR's Jazzset," and in New York at the Blue Note, Smalls, the Jazz Gallery, Smoke, WNYC and WQXR.
In 2000, Weiss was awarded the BMI/ Monk Institute Composers Competition grandprize, presented to him by Wayne Shorter for his piece, El Camino," which appears on Weiss' latest CD, Soul Journey. With influences as varied as Scriabin and Szymanowski to Shorter, Weiss' compositions focus on extended forms, thematic development and attention to detail. Says Weiss, a greater percentage of composition in the mix is crucial to keeping Jazz moving forward. The solo after solo bit on the same chord changes is becoming a worn out model. This doesn't mean giving up on jazz's foundations. I'm interested in incorporating improvised solos within a piece like characters in a play or perhaps as the narrator between scenes. I'm always looking for ways in which to expand my material."
In 2003, Weiss was a recipient of the Doris Duke/Chamber Music America New Works grant, for which he wrote the suite, Three Doors. Concert engagements in 2005 included the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's jazz series.
His ambitious new album, Soul Journey, keeps Weiss' shrewd writing and arranging skills as clearly in view as his sleek piano work, honed with the likes of Art Farmer and Johnny Griffin"--The New Yorker