With the release of Observatory, their second album in as many years, the husband and wife duo of keyboardist and pianist, Steve Weingart
and bassist, Renee Jones continue to celebrate and redefine the music that has inspired them throughout their careers. Tapping into the influence of music legends like Joe Zawinul & Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Wayne Shorter, Weingart & Jones have dramatically thrust the genre in new directions by expressing a potent mixture of compositional risk, a refined sonic palette and superb musical craftsmanship.
I wanted to do something a little bit different. I wanted to bring about something new and I wanted to grow in such a way that was deeper harmonically and compositionally," says Weingart of the new album. Jones adds, People who know us and know the kind of music we love to play, know that we are heavily influenced by Weather Report and a lot of jazz and instrumental groups from the 70's. There's something very special about that music for us. There's something special about that time period for us and we were hoping to capture that with Observatory."
Joined by drumming legend Simon Phillips
(Toto, Hiromi Trio Project, Jeff Beck), the innovative and evocative Katisse Buckingham (Yellowjackets, Herbie Hancock, Robben Ford) on saxophones and flutes, acclaimed percussionist and drummer Chris Wabich (Sting, Jimmie Haslip, Omar Faruk), and special appearance by renowned guitarist Mike Miller (Chick Corea, Bette Midler, Brand X), Weingart & Jones weave a powerful yet subtle harmonic narrative that is both satisfying for discrete ears yet highly accessible to a broad audience.
The opening track, Twenty Twelve, serves notice with a powerful, funky groove that sets the scene, forecasting an expansive vibrating palette in a deliberate move by Weingart to create a sonic story arc. I started to study the music of Wayne Shorter, and a lot of it isn’t typical form — it's not symmetrical in that sense. It's more of a story telling gradient. I wanted to bring that out in the composing."
Weingart and Jones grew up in Dayton, Ohio where they met in high school and first played together musically as soloists — piano and oboe, respectively — during a school performance of Edvard Greig's Concerto in A Minor. Weingart continued to study music on a full scholarship to The College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati. Shortly thereafter, Weingart made the move to Los Angeles where he met established musicians and began collaborating and touring with drummer Dave Weckl, co-‐writing and performing numerous songs on Weckl's studio albums Transition, Perpetual Motion and Multiplicity in addition to performing live on Live and Very Plugged In.
Over the years, Weingart's sonic mastery and musical sensibilities have kept him in demand as a collaborator and highly regarded session player. Recently, Weingart has become known for his work with guitarist Steve Lukather (Toto, Los Lobotomys, Session Legend) who first asked him to join the fusion band El Grupo and later as the musical director and keyboardist for Lukather's touring band. It is this association that eventually brought Jones out of the shadows to display her remarkable abilities as a bassist and singer, reuniting the pair musically and professionally as part of Lukather's solo touring band.
I was on the road with Steve Lukather quite a bit and we were talking about the end of the Mayan calendar, and how the world is getting crazy now,” reveals Weingart about the inspiration behind the concept of Observatory. “I wanted to do something that kind of reflected that. Our song titles were meant in observation of the things we see around us. The surrealistic idea extends the music and I think they go hand in hand."
Observatory is co-‐produced by Weingart and Phillips, building upon a collaborative relationship that began with their 2011 release, Dialogue. We have a special relationship with Simon. We have somebody who we feel is a brilliant musician and has a great sense about the kind of music that Steve and I are interested in," says Jones.
Observatory is available on compact disc and digital download through CD Baby. The music can also be downloaded digitally through iTunes Google Play and Amazon.