An exciting follow-up
Alex Weitz’s new CD, “Luma,” is an impressionistic masterwork. “Luma” follows 2013’s “Chroma” which was considered stunning for a debut, especially in one so young. Older and wiser at 25, “Luma” shows further development in the young musician’s oeuvre. This is the saxophonist’s and arranger’s second album as the leader of an ensemble. For this recording Weitz has put together Tal Cohen on piano, Ben Tiberio on bass, and Michael Piolet on drums, in addition to Weitz on saxophone.
Moods are carefully drawn with soundscapes that paint their own pictures. Listeners can fill in their own details, but if this recording were literature, it would be one part surrealism, and one part art for art’s sake.
Weitz’s musical career began in Tucson, Ariz., as part of the award-winning Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band. Weitz subsequently relocated to Miami, and in addition to studies at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, he also performed as part of the Henry Mancini Institute Jazz Septet led by trumpet player, Terence Blanchard.
The various musical experiences Weitz has gained shows up in the music he produces now. The music does not sound like a young person’s first or second foray into professional recording. There is a beauty to Weitz’s work, and a relaxed confidence that seems beyond his years.
The nine songs presented on “Luma” have a classical music sensibility to them that enables them to express effortlessly the cinematic and the impressionistic elements that inevitably show up. I am resisting using the word “pretty” for fear that such cheapens the Weitz experience. For many listeners, the nine songs will not feel like enough, much like when the well-crafted movie, or effectively written and plotted literary novel, come to their logical conclusions and no one is ready for the end.
The CD’s title track begins with a sparse piano line that is soon joined by a moody saxophone. The piano is reminiscent of classical piano, rather than jazz. The song does not swing, and that’s fine. Listeners are kept still in the moments provided by the stark beauty as the instruments complement each other. Toward the end, the instrumentation gets a bit lighter, almost playful, but the overall moodiness is not lost, and thus the artful qualities of the song are retained.
This song almost sounds like a continuation of “Luma,” but if that track were to continue and begin to move with the verve and vigor afforded by bright piano and energetic drums. Here, the piano is a bit more of what jazz fans might be used to—Cohen’s talents are used well, and the drums have a certain clatter to them that picks up the entire piece.
Whether you are looking for new music by younger musicians just to see the state of contemporary jazz, or if you just want a stunning addition to your collection, Weitz’s sophomore effort, “Luma” is for you.