by: Stamish Malcuss
In the sea of tenor saxophonists, a refreshing new voice is emerging it is that of a recent graduate of the Frost School of Music in Miami, Florida. The young lion I speak of is Alex Weitz, growing up in the no-so-jazz-mecca of Arizona, it was the Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band that gave this young emerging saxophonist his budding desire and foundational strength to swing. His major influence came under the tutelage of famed jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard, it was during his time with Blanchard that Weitz further solidified his voice as a saxophonist and deepened her personal style. Further, Weitz expanded his knowledge with graduate studies in Studio Jazz Writing. This trait is exhibited in his original compositions which are displayed in a developed manner on his sophomore release Luma.
“Did You Know,” kicks off the record with a bebop style horn figure that settles into a relaxed and laid-back swing. One of the traits that truly shows the salt of a saxophonist, well any horn player for that matter, is their ability to develop fluid ideas in mid-tempo to down-tempo tunes, Weitz has a maturity with his use of space, and the development of his dynamics clearly has been a focus, or is a natural trait that is well played. He can easily switch gears from laid back in the pocket lines, to instantly change-up to bop-infused ideas that seamlessly push and pull the swing at his desire. Joined by pianist and friend Tal Cohen, who also utilizes the full scope of his keys within his solos, in addition to excellent solo building motifs. Bassist, Ben Tiberio takes a meaning chorus solo that leads back into the melody nicely again with Weitz setting up a relaxed listen.
“Let it Go” is a melodically beautiful tune that builds in intensity as the tune progresses, with nice tension and release sections. Weitz horn is mournful and tastefully arch’s through the peaks and valleys of the melody. Whereas the title track “Luma,” a delicate ballad is given a tender treatment with elongated lines and wistful trances of relaxation.
The flowering of “Azalea” is in full bloom with a moody underpinning by Cohen and Tiberio. A sincere talent that Weitz exhibits in his compositions is the various sections of his writing ideas, in one moment he might be creating a driving section, then a rumbato decay to an up-tempo swing. It is in these ideas that his essence as a writer shine through. Overall each tune is a delight, with each cut certainly portraying its own character and individuality. Though this might be a long-awaited follow up from Chroma in 2013, it is well worth the time and development that is Luma.