In 1994, pianist Jon Weber, who had just released his debut recording as a leader, Jazz Wagon, went on tour and made a strong impression. A brilliant pianist who reportedly knew over 20,000 songs, Weber showed a great deal of potential in his swinging playing. But he soon returned to Chicago and, although working locally, went back into obscurity. Nearly a decade later, Simple Complex not only features his piano playing but a large cast performing ten of his originals. The personnel changes from track to track and includes such notables as vibraphonist Gary Burton, trumpeter Diego Urcola, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, Roy Hargrove on flügelhorn (dueting with Weber on the ballad "No More Words"), bassists Niels Pedersen and Avishai Cohen, and oboist Paul McCandless, who is featured on the haunting "While She's Dreaming." The music ranges from 1960s hard bop to some more explorative playing that utilizes tricky rhythms and complex chord changes. Weber is generous in allocating solo space (Gary Burton and Eric Alexander are well featured) and, if anything, he should have put the focus more on his own piano playing. The originals are excellent and a few of them, such as "No More Words," "Drastic Steps," and "Jolie," deserve to catch on. Hopefully, listeners will not have to wait half as long next time before Jon Weber records again.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow