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Michael Weiss Returns to the Vanguard
(Published: March 21, 2007)

Pianist and composer Michael Weiss returns with his quintet to the Village Vanguard on March 27 through April 1. Joining Weiss will be Steve Wilson, alto and soprano saxophones; Ugonna Okegwo, bass; George Fludas, drums; and Daniel Sadownick, percussion. Set times are 9 and 11 p.m. The Village Vanguard is located at 178 Seventh Avenue South. For reservations and information: (212) 255-4037. www.villagevanguard.com

Weiss made his critically acclaimed Village Vanguard debut as a leader last October, focusing on original material tailored specifically for his quintet. Reviewing the ensemble's performance, New York Times critic Nate Chinen praised Weiss' composing, playing and bandleading skills, noting that "he demonstrated a strong sense of leadership and organization." Chinen also wrote that Weiss was "a confident and sometimes sparkling presence on piano" and that his playing exhibited "sensitivity and logic, along with crisp control."

For twenty years, Weiss has performed several times at the Vanguard as a sideman with Johnny Griffin, Charles McPherson, Von Freeman, George Coleman, Joe Wilder and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Weiss' resumé also includes work with Art Farmer, Frank Wess, Slide Hampton, Wynton Marsalis, Jimmy Heath, the Jazztet, Lou Donaldson, Junior Cook and Bill Hardman.

For the last decade Weiss has focused his performances almost exclusively on his compositions. In 1996 he formed a sextet which gave Weiss the opportunity to develop and expand his material. Performances included the Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival, the Stanford Jazz Festival, the Smithsonian Institution, NPR's "Jazzset," and in New York at the Blue Note, Smalls, the Jazz Gallery, Smoke, WNYC and WQXR. In 2000, Weiss was awarded the BMI/Monk Institute Composers Competition grandprize, presented to him by Wayne Shorter for his piece, "El Camino," which appears on Weiss' latest CD, "Soul Journey." With influences as varied as Scriabin and Szymanowski to Shorter, Weiss' compositions focus on extended forms, thematic development and attention to detail. Says Weiss, "a greater percentage of composition in the mix is crucial to keeping Jazz moving forward. The solo after solo bit on the same chord changes is becoming a worn out model. This doesn't mean giving up on jazz's foundations. I'm interested in incorporating improvised solos within a piece like characters in a play or perhaps as the narrator between scenes. I'm always looking for ways in which to expand my material." In 2003 Weiss was a recipient of the Doris Duke/Chamber Music America New Works grant, for which he wrote the suite, Three Doors. Concert engagements in 2005 included the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's jazz series.

Reviews of Soul Journey

"His ambitious new album, "Soul Journey," keeps Weiss' shrewd writing and arranging skills as clearly in view as his sleek piano work, honed with the likes of Art Farmer and Johnny Griffin." - The New Yorker

"Weiss has a rich palette of composing devices at his command." - Downbeat

"Soul Journey has warmth, integrity and above all, originality." - JazzTimes

"About as close to perfection as a recording can get....If there is truly justice in our world, this should be a Grammy nominee." - Jazz Improv

"It's not often that you find jazz compositions of the caliber offered up on Soul Journey. [It] goes far beyond your typical mainstream fare. Weiss is a vital talent with something important to say." - All About Jazz

"This music lives and breathes freshness and exhilarating originality. The individual selections are strong and attractive enough, to still be played as jazz vehicles in 10, 20, or even 50 year's time." - Jazz Journal

"Weiss' compositions take on different shapes, great complexity and fresh perspectives." - Washington Post

More Information: http://www.michaelweiss.info

Submitted By: Nepenthean Music

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