By Mark Corroto
Do jazz jukeboxes exist? I’m not referring to an online streaming service that tells you what to like. I’m talking about a mechanical box in a roadhouse you put money in, and everyone in the joint listens to your selections. If there are such establishments with said jukeboxes, I’m certain customers would select WW1, WW2, WW3, et cetera, for most of the tracks on Walt Weiskopf’s The Way You Say It .
The saxophonist a veteran of the big bands of Buddy Rich and Toshiko Akiyoshi, plus a requested sideman with Steely Dan, has produced a dozen outings as a leader, first for Criss Cross, and three now for Positone Records. The latest follows Open Road (2015), a quartet and the sextet Overdrive (2014) both with pianist Peter Zak. With The Way You Say It, he swaps piano for the organ of Brian Charette, an instrument we haven’t heard with the saxophonist since A World Away (Criss Cross, 1995) .
Charette, the de facto house organist for Positone, comports himself quite well here, supporting Weisskopf and vibraphonist Behn Gillece , who we heard on Overdrive. With drummer Steve Fidyk, the quartet can negotiate a speedy burner like “Inntoene” and “Blues Combination” with jaw-dropping ease. Weiskopf has all the tools, a broad and deep sound with a very well balanced attack. In other words, a beautiful tone. That richness is showcased on the flavor-rich ballad “Candy” and “Invisible Sun.” Weiskopf penned ten of the twelve pieces here. “Envisioned” allows for each musician to stretch out a bit as it burns with a hot blue flame.
The quartet picks through two contrasting covers, Charlie Parker ‘s “Segment” and the Weather Report classic “Scarlet Woman.” The quartet turns Joe Zawinul’s fusion into a stormy blues romp with Bird’s music sailing with a nonchalance befitting such a sprezzatura artist as Weiskopf.
Track Listing: Coffee and Scones; Separation; Inntoene; Dreamlining; Blues Combination; Candy; Envisioned; Invisible Sun; Manny Boy; Scarlet Woman; Segment; The Way You Say It.
Personnel: Walt Weiskopf: tenor saxophone; Brian Charette: organ; Behn Gillece: vibraphone; Steve Fidyk: drums.