This time of year top-ten lists abound. On any given day, the few dozen records that I covered in print this past year could easily occupy a slot somewhere at the top of my list.
For each title that gets ink, there are a few others for which there just isn’t enough space. So, I’d like to start the New Year by offering a tip-of-the-cap to some worthwhile discs from the past year that you might wish to consider checking out. Jazz has had very few full-time practitioners of the flute. Herbie Mann, Hubert Laws, and Dave Valentin quickly come to mind. Many other such as Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Yusef Lateef have very capably included flute as part of their instrumental arsenal.
Flautist Mark Weinstein has been a part of the scene for more than four decades, yet his is a name many aren’t familiar with.
Last year he released a pair of albums which should go a long way toward garnering him overdue and well-deserved recognition.
“Straight No Chaser” is a solid date on which he is at the helm of a quartet that includes guitarist Dave Stryker. Comprised primarily of original music, gems by Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, and Thelonious Monk’s title track provide important points of reference that Weinstein is eminently capable of playing straight-ahead jazz.
On “Lua e Sol” he artfully mines the Brazilian vein. Ably abetted by the classical guitar of Romero Lubambo and percussion from Cyro Baptista, much of the disc rides a gentle lilt as it shimmers with genuine South American warmth.
A lesser known facet of Brazilian music bubbles to the surface on the title track. Weinstein describes it as “that very dark avant-garde thing that Brazilians do that not too many people know about.”
Other moody ports-of-call include the introspective “Emorio” and the lovely ballad “Pra Machuchar Meu Coracao,” featuring bass flute and alto flute respectively.
Breezy and easy, these two CDs are toe-tappers which will go a long way toward warming up a frosty winter night.