Joel Weiskopf

New Beginning

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Pianist Joel Weiskopf's second outing on Criss Cross finds him with a quintet, concentrating more on his original music. Trumpeter John Swana and tenorist Walt Weiskopf (the leader's older brother) are in the front line, with John Patitucci on bass and Jeff Brillinger on drums. Weiskopf's writing never departs from the mainstream, but his improvisations often push the envelope, as do those of his colleagues. Swana and the elder Weiskopf lock in with unfaltering precision on the fast eighth-note line of "Tuesday Night Prayer Meeting" (a deliberate Mingus reference) and the rubato opening of the title track. In addition to Joel Weiskopf's originals, the album features imaginative arrangements of "The Pawnbroker," Quincy Jones' theme from the film of the same name, and Franz Josef Haydn's "Welcome Happy Morning." The full extent of Weiskopf's piano wizardry becomes clear when he begins soloing on the final track, "In His Time," turning a simple, almost pop-like song into a brilliantly reharmonized epic.

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