Pianist-Composer James Weidman Celebrates His 60th Birthday with Truth & Actuality on Inner Circle Music July 23rd
(Published: July 22, 2013)
Pianist James Weidman Celebrates
His 60th Birthday with Truth & Actuality On Inner Circle Music With
The Aperturistic Trio. Featuring Bassist/Co-producer Harvie S and Drummer Steve Williams Out July 23rd.
The band arose out of duo sessions with Harvie S, in which they performed a series of concerts, including at NYC's Kitano. "I would book some things, Harvie would book some things," explains James Weidman,"but we never had a steady drummer. Harvie recommended Steve Williams - I had worked with Steve in Joe Lovano's bands, and I really liked his playing."
While Truth & Actuality is Weidman's first trio release since 1997's People Music, he never left the trio format entirely. Each of Weidman's previous releases contain tunes recorded in the trio setting. He attributes his passion for the trio to his years of accompanying vocalists, often in trio. "The three of us share this experience of working with singers," Weidman notes. Harvie is well known for his partnership with Sheila Jordan, and Williams was at the core of Shirley Horn's trio for decades. "Through working with vocalists, we all have a passion for the lyrical side of this music," Weidman observes. Weidman is also an amateur photographer, often carrying his camera on tour. "There's a creativity in the colors, shapes and form of what you see, what you capture throug h the lens. Composition and improvisation are analogous to that. That's what we're trying to do, especially on ‘Aperturistic' - create our own scenery within the composition."
Carmen Lundy introduced Weidman to the Stevie Wonder song, and in describing his relationship to that tune, he provides a characterization of his sound more generally. "It was a tune I always wanted to record. I'm always fascinated by how players recall their roots - how Charlie Parker evoked the Kansas City blues and the Jay McShann horn section, that blues-drenched thing that you can hear throughout his whole playing. We need to plug into all of our experiences, to draw from those things and to make it your own."
The blues-drenched piano sound is in full evidence on Weidman's composition "Pastor B's Homily," dedicated to the late Frederick J. Bryant. A classmate of pianist Kenny Barron, Bryant had contacted Weidman to start a jazz vespers at his Trinity Lutheran church. "Pastor B was a phenomenal music lover, he had albums of any artist you could imagine. He was very much part of that Philadelphia tradition of proud and knowledgeable listeners." Weidman wrote the piece a few years before Pastor B passed away from cancer, and had played it for him. "It reminds me of the way he would dance at the church functions, and the rhythm and cadence of his voice."
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Weidman spent his formative years playing organ both in church and in his father's band. "My first paying gig was in a church. In an African-American community especially you'd end up doing a church gig, especially if you could play the sacred music." Through his adolescence he played B3, learning to improvise and accompany, and digging through his dad's record collection, heavy on bebop and post-bop sides from the 1940s through the 1960s. "I became engrossed in learning about all the great pianists and horn men even though I was playing organ. Bud Powell, Bird, and Miles were greater than Spider-Man & Fantastic Four to me." He credits mentors such as James Williams, who preceded Weidman at William Patterson University, and Bob Neloms (the pianist in Charles Mingus' final band), with providing guidance towards a career in jazz.
Truth & Actuality is Weidman's second release on Inner Circle Music, the label run by saxophonist Greg Osby. Weidman and Osby connected through the M-Base collective, and bonded over their shared concerns regarding ownership of one's music. "In M-Base we were very proactive in terms of putting our music out there. A lot of times I went in and recorded without waiting for anybody. I was self-producing years ago," notes Weidman. This independent spirit and prolific creativity has led to Weidman launching a solo piano album, recorded on a Fazioli piano, that will be available on the same day as the release of Truth & Actuality. With his recent acquisition of a Steinway L piano, on the cusp of his 60th birthday, Weidman says he has "an instrum ent that inspires him" for the first time since his college days, a new inspiration easily heard on his two new albums.
CD launch & 60th birthday party August 12th at Zinc Bar, NYC
More Information: http:// www.jamesweidman.com