The late 1960’s were a turbulent but exciting time for jazz. The music seemed to simultaneously get more complex and simpler at the same time as a variety of influences infused the music. Some were experimenting with soul, rock and exotic rhythms from the India and the Far East. Others were carrying on the innovations of the second great Miles Davis quintet, using the groups ever shifting rhythms and harmonic complexities as a springboard to new compositional ideas. Some somehow combined both to create some new, exciting music. The Point of Departure Quintet is re-examining some of the most innovative music of the period, some of it neglected, some, perhaps, never quite as developed as it could have been as things seemed to move at a pace during that period that left some music from being fully realized as they quickly moved on to the next new thing. Among the composers being re-examined and re-imagined are Andrew Hill, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Tony Williams and music from the unsung Kenny Cox and the Contemporary Jazz Quintet (who recorded two seminal but under-appreciated records for Blue Note in the late 1960’s).
Weiss began dabbling with the idea of the Point of Departure band as early as 2004 but began the group in earnest in 2006 when he was offered a regular Thursday night residency at the Greenwich Village club Fat Cat. The regular gig gave Weiss the opportunity to try out many up-and-coming musicians on the scene in various combinations until the personnel became solidified. By the end of the six month run, Weiss felt he had a fully realized new band with a unique sound and approach; a harmonically adventurous band with more of a free approach to the music that could switch grooves from swing to funk to rock in different time signatures on a dime. His original idea for the sound of the band drew on his experiences playing with the Haitian kompa super group Tabou Combo. That band featured two guitarists playing interweaving guitar lines that defined the sound of the band. When the band recorded the horn section, they had the horns record every line twice and one would be panned far left and the other far right creating a unique stereo effect. Weiss thought using two guitarists could make both these concepts work, the interweaving lines and when the guitarists both played chords in unison could achieve a interesting stereo effect. After a few failed attempts during their initial residency, the decision was made to stick to one guitarist until a proper 2nd guitarist was found. When conceptualizing the new CD, the decision was made to attempt the two guitar sound again and this time everything fell into place with two new amazing young guitarists, Ben Eunson and Travis Reuter came aboard. The new CD also stretches the parameters of the original group concept a little by adding material from the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the Brazilian avant garde fusion band Grupo Um.
Trumpeter David Weiss leads two fantastic bands devoted to honoring and updating jazz history: the Cookers, an all-star team of ’60s and ’70s veterans, and Point Of Departure, a group of youngsters who explore the territory where hard bop and early fusion meet. POD started out putting their own spin on tunes by Andrew Hill, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, and undersung Detroit keyboardist Kenny Cox — music from the mid to late ’60s that was adventurous but still hooky enough to lure in almost any listener. On this album, Weiss has revamped the lineup, making it a two-guitar group (Ben Eunson in particular is a shredder, with Travis Reuter providing support), and expanding the book to include pieces by Mahavishnu Orchestra and Grupo Um, a Brazilian fusion outfit. The music seems to shimmer in the air, as Weiss and saxophonist Myron Walden essay the melodies in thoughtful unison and bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Kush Abadey pound the rhythms home.
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