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Walt Weiskopf European Quartet – ‘Introspection’

Walt Weiskopf European Quartet – Introspection

(IDBLM- 352842. 2021. http://www.jazzfuel.com. Album Review by Frank Griffith)

American tenor saxophonist and composer Walt Weiskopf has released around 20 CDs in his own name. The latest, Introspection, was recorded in 2020-21, largely in Copenhagen. There were delays, etc, because of the CV19 pandemic, but the fruit of this endeavour is a consummate and organically whole musical message.

While on tour in January 2020 with his European Quartet consisting of three Danes, Carl Winther – piano, Andreas Lang – bass and drummer Anders Mogensen, a powerful and well-knit group was established. Six of the twelve pieces are Weiskopf’s, usually to evoke a time, place or person. All of which are eloquently described by the composer in the liner note. A healthy and varied clutch of jazz and standard classics are also included. Chestnuts like the late Leslie Bricusse’s Pure Imagination, When Your Lover Has Gone (a Sinatra vehicle) and a lesser known McCoy Tyner gem, You Taught My Heart To Sing. Closing this delightful collection is Nicholas Brodsky’s Be My Love, a 1950s hit by Mario Lanza. Walt writes “When preparing to record my nonet for Criss Cross (label)  in the  nineties: I tried a version of this classic song but was not happy with my arrangement. It’s always stuck with me though, and this  time- with just our quartet, it worked out just right.” I’ll say,..and thanks for offering the smaller group version.

Many of the tracks have  added flute and clarinet backings that slip and slope in a somewhat elusive and low key fashion. Never particularly calling  attention to themselves or distracting from the quartet’s prominence. One assumes that Walt overdubbed these at a later date and that the low register and darker colurs of the flutes and clarinets offer a gentle cushion to offset the more strident and rhythmical nature of the quartet. A most effective yin and yang musical device.

Weiskopf’s intense and unvavering, yet pristine and vibratoless tone, truly stands out. His plaintive cry goes a long way  to exploiting the poignant ballads such as Duke Pearson’s You Know I Care and Jimmy Rowles’ The Peacocks.

An exemplary release is Introspection. Weiskopf’s  European Quartet have revealed yet another masterpiece. For those of us resident in Europe lets hope that this fine group tours here sooner than later.

Frank Griffith is a saxophonist resident in Liverpool. His nonet will be playing at the Sefton Park Cricket Club (Liverpool) on Sunday, 5 December at 8PM. His radio show, The Jazz Cavern, airs weekly on www.mykindamusic24.com and www.purejazzradio.com

LINK: Introspection at JazzFuel

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