David Weiss and Point of Departure Sound a 'Wake Up Call' in the Village This Week

Mar 28, 2017

Hard bop isn’t a limiting factor for David Weiss. As a trumpeter, bandleader and composer, he has moved broadly within the style, notably with the Cookers, the all-star unit he founded almost a decade ago. But Weiss has also branched well beyond hard-bop — most recently on Wake Up Call, the fourth album by Point of Departure. 

As the name of the band implies, Point of Departure has a dual commitment to jazz’s experimental drive and its historical lineage. (That duality is perfectly embodied by its namesake: Point of Departure, the 1964 Blue Note album by pianist-composer Andrew Hill.) Previous albums by the group have featured tunes by jazz innovators of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and that mandate holds true on Wake Up Call.

The album includes one composition apiece by saxophonists Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson, two by drummer Tony Williams, and one by guitarist John McLaughlin (from the Mahavishnu Orchestra era). There are also a couple of tunes by the often-overlooked trumpeter Charles Moore, whose pieces have appeared on every Point of Departure album thus far.

One of those Moore compositions is “Multidirection,” which was the title track of a 1969 album by Kenny Cox and the Contemporary Jazz Quintet. In its original version, “Multidirection” features Moore and tenor saxophonist Leon Henderson in the front line, leaving the countermelody — and some bluesy interjections — to Cox at the piano. 

Moore and Cox are both obvious touchstones for Weiss; Wake Up Call includes another track from Multidirection, and previous Point of Departure albums have featured other Moore tunes from the same session. But in this exclusive footage from the studio, note the ways in which Weiss and company modernize the tune.

For one thing, there’s the matter of instrumentation: Point of Departure has no dedicated pianist, instead featuring multiple electric guitars. On this track, Nir Felder and Ben Eunson fill those roles, with Felder fashioning an expeditionary solo. There’s also a cool, searching tenor saxophone solo by J.D. Allen, and some urgently coiled rhythm-section work by Matt Clohesy (on bass) and Kush Abadey (on drums).

Weiss and Point of Departure perform this week in a slightly different configuration — with Myron Walden stepping in on tenor, and Travis Reuter replacing Felder on guitar. (Both musicians can be heard on Wake Up Call, depending on the track.) See the band on Thursday at Nublu in the East Village, on Friday at Fat Cat in the West Village, or on Sunday at The Falcon in the Hudson Valley.

For more information about David Weiss, visit his website.