Bass,Bass Clarinet - Chris Weigers
Keyboard - Chris Palmaro,Bill Heller,Peter Truffa,Victor Burks
Drums - Tony Beard,Yao Dinizulu,Frank Bellucci
Percussion - Tony Beard,Steve Finkelstein
Guitar - Don Celenza,Steve Salerno,Andy Stack
Alto Sax/Flute - Paula Atherton
Tenor Sax/Flute - Freddie Reiter
Tenor & soprano Sax - Paavo Carey
Trombone - Rick Faulkner
Trumpet - Jason Chapman
Harp - Jim Palmer
Produced by Chris Weigers and Lou Gimenez
Mixed by Lou Gimenez
Mastered by Scott Hull
Chris Weigers is a veteran of the New York area music scene. Perhaps typical for a bass player, he has, until now, always been a sideman. From a touring company of the musical "Hair" to Makanda Ken McIntyre's big band to "The Zen Tricksters" he has found himself playing in a variety of styles and environments. The CD "Horizons" marks his debut as a leader. Though Weigers has several solo spots on the recording it is not designed as a showcase of bass "chops" or Olympian technique. Rather it is the music itself and the truly group effort on each track that is in the forefront. The musicians featured are players that Weigers has been performing with in various musical settings over the past few years.
The first three (and the last) tracks are an expansion of a quartet that has been playing around New York City since 2003. Chris Palmaro on keyboard and Tony Beard on drums are fixtures in the NY club and recording world. Along with Don Celenza on guitar this group is best described as an R & B, jazz, groove oriented jam band. On any night the direction of a given tune is up for grabs. Check out "Boulevard East" for a taste of this vibe. "Nieuw Bass Hook" (the spelling is a tip to Weigers' Dutch heritage) is a shuffle, the favored groove for opening a gig for this band. Paula Atherton leads a horn section that augments the quartet. Celenza and Palmaro burn their way through solo sections while Weigers and Beard propel the group forward. "Half Moon" follows with Atherton now on flute. This is a showcase for Celenza, Palmaro,Weigers, and Beard to show their stuff. Listen for the fretless triple stops that begin the bass solo.
Tracks four through six featureThe New York Ska Jazz Ensemble, a group with which Weigers has performed extensively since 2001. "Ska Espagna" and "Bilbao" were inspired by tours the band has done in Europe. Jason Chapman adds some nice muted trumpet to the former tune. Solos by Weigers and Freddie Reiter (on flute) are highlights. "Bilbao" captures the energy, almost frantic intensity, of an up tempo ska tune. Yao Dinizulu on drums seems to say, "hang on folks, here we go". Reiter on tenor sax and Peter Truffa on piano take no prisoners. "Trinidad" is a calypso/ska song where Rick Faulkner on trombone and Andy Stack on guitar lay down solos that are just right. The icing on the cake is Steve Finkelstein's multiple percussion tracks.
How far can we go from here? About 250 years to the "Largo from Henry Eccles Sonata"is the answer. Long time associate Jim Palmer ( Weigers played on two records of Palmer's group "Lothlorien" in the early 80's) has transferred the piano part to the harp. Electric bass and harp is a rather unusual combination but the result is beautiful. Listen for yourself.
We jump back to our millennium with "Maybe I'm A Maze". Frank Bellucci is now on drums and he grooves us so comfortably that we don't realize for a while that half the tune is in a 15/4 time signature! Then he takes a drum solo that will make drummers sit up and take notice. Bill Heller (The Rippington's) negotiates the maze throughout and plays a tastefully off center solo on organ. Heller and Weigers go back to The Jim Pin Band that at one time toured as a "clinic" band for Brian Moore Custom Guitars. That group included Brian Moore company president Patrick Cummings and his brothers Michael and Jimmy as well as Lee (The Blues Brothers) and Steve Finkelstein(both of Funk Filharmonik) on drums and percussion. At various times band members included Charlie DeChant (Hall and Oates) on sax and Rob Barraco (Phil Lesh,The Dead, The Zen Tricksters) on keyboard.
Not from The Jim Pin Band but a fixture on the NY "downtown" scene, Steve Salerno plays a wonderfully angular guitar solo here. Oh yeah, Weigers also overdubs the melody on bass clarinet.
"Transits" is a Steely Dan-ish groove over some interesting chords. Paula Atherton returns and plays a blistering alto sax solo as well as the melody. Heller again delivers a first rate solo. Bellucci, Weigers, and Andy Stack keep the ball rolling underneath.
"February Blues" swings. Yes, walking bass and ride cymbal. Weigers takes the leader role with the first solo. Paavo Carey, on soprano sax, makes his first appearance and plays a brilliant solo in a call and response manner with Salerno. Bellucci gets some space here as well and makes the best of it. Victor Burks joins on piano - listen to the fine comping under the bass solo.
The final full tune on the CD is "Isla Santa Cruz". This is named for an island in The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador where Chris befriended some local musicians. Weigers, Burks and Bellucci are joined by Finkelstein to provide a canvas for Carey, now on tenor sax, and Salerno to weave finely crafted solos.
To leave the listener with a final burst of intensity is an excerpt of an outtake of "Boulevard East" which is appropriately entitled "Blvd. Out". The jam is on, spearheaded by Chris Palmaro. As it fades we are left satisfied yet yearning for more.