Dan Weiss talks a lot like he plays the drums. When I spoke with him about his Sunday concert at Bop Stop, his answers to my interview questions were short. To the point. Nothing wasted. Next question?
Yet forward momentum, essential for any drummer, is just one part of his game. Color, an original voice as a composer and a keen ear for texture are in there. They’re all present on Dedication (Cygnus Records), the stunning new release by Weiss’ longstanding trio with pianist Jacob Sacks and bassist Thomas Morgan.
Given his many musical associations with artists as diverse as the saxophonists Jon Irabagon and Lee Konitz, pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu, it’s kind of amazing that he’s only appeared in Cleveland twice. The trio played Bop Stop in November 2019, and 19 months earlier he was at the Hingetown club with saxophonist Chris Potter band.
Still, Cleveland has played a formative role in Weiss’ musical development in the person of percussionist Jamey Haddad.
“I studied frame drums with him. I was still in college,” Weiss recalled on a video call from his native New York. “Because he studied South Indian rhythms, we would do a lot of that on the frame drum. And he’s like, ‘You might want to think about taking this a little further. I’m gonna give you someone’s number, a tabla teacher. If you’re interested, just call him.’ So I did. It was Jamey, who gave me my teacher, Samir Chatterjee”
Twenty-five years later, Weiss still occasionally studies with Chatterjee, and the influence of that tradition’s intricate wheels of rhythms within rhythms is a major influence on Weiss’ style of playing and composing.
But so is the bebop tradition of drummers such as Max Roach, Philly Joe and Elvin Jones.
“I studied with a guy named Jeff Kraus, who was great,” Weiss said. “He gave me some recordings to check out, Count Basie, ‘Clifford Brown and Max Roach At Basin Street’–basically straightahead. And from there it was all over. Game on.”
Just how deeply Weiss has absorbed the drum tradition is on display in the series of short clips he posts on Instagram (follow him at @danwdrums). Aspiring and master drummers alike will marvel at the way his short clips illuminate the beautiful mechanics of a Roy Haynes fill or a John Bonham groove.
“He’s what made me want to play drums,” Weiss said. “Zeppelin was the first band I ever heard when I was, I don’t know, three, four. And the same principles apply whether it’s John Bonham, whether it’s Max Roach. They’ve both got a great feel. Got a great sound. Got a great touch–a different touch, but great touch. Great ideas. Great musical choices. Beautiful flow. Doesn’t matter the genre, whether it’s rock, whether it’s bebop, whether it’s free jazz, whether it’s metal, whether it’s funk, drumming, whether it’s punk drumming. It’s all the same to me, you know? It’s not the same, but the same.”
To explain that seeming contradiction, listen to Weiss in settings as varied as his 16-piece large ensemble, in duet with guitarist and label partner Miles Okazaki, with his proggy jazz-metal Starebaby band or with the subtle, supple trio. These bands stretch across a vast spectrum of density, amplitude and approach. Yet on each of them Weiss plays with imagination, power, precision.
Dan Weiss Trio, Sunday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m. at Bop Stop at the Music Settlement, 2920 Detroit Ave., Cleveland. $20 in advance available here, $25 at the door. The concert will not be livestreamed.
Four musical events in the coming week that you might want to check out.
Friday, Dec. 9, 7 p.m.
Terrestrial Brewing, 7524 Father Frascati, Cleveland (tickets)
At their best, the duo of trumpeter Donald Malloy and vocalist Rowanne Atallah can achieve a hookup that borders on the extra-terrestrial. Their appearance at the Detroit-Edgewater spot is a party-starter for sure.
John Petrucelli Quartet
BLU Jazz+, 47 E. Market St., Akron (tickets)
Upon moving to northeast Ohio, it didn’t take saxophonist Petrucelli long to zero in on finding the region’s most accomplished rhythm section. Pianist Theron Brown and his frequent trio mates Jordan McBride (bass) and Zaire Darden (drums) are the NEO equivalent of Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb is early-60s New York, and it doesn’t get any better than that.
Amanda Powell & Friends
Sunday, Dec. 11, 4 p.m.
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 7196 SOM Center Rd., Solon (donations accepted)
It’s said that you’re known by the friends you keep. To be sure, Amanda Powell’s extraordinarily accomplished musical bona fides need no advocacy from me, but just look at these friends: saxophonist Howie Smith, Brown, bassist and educator Dave Morgan and Anthony Taddeo, Powell’s percussionist partner in the Italo-jazz project Alla Boara–all in a concert with no admission charge.
Dave Koz and Friends 25th Anniversary Christmas Tour
Sunday, Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m.
Connor Palace Theatre, 1615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland (tickets)
A smooth jazz show in let’s call this? Why, have you never heard of peace on earth and goodwill to men? And in this case, women, too, as keyboard virtuoso Keiko Matsui and vocalist Rebecca Jade share Friend-ly billing with trumpeter Rick Braun and guitarist Peter White in Koz’s swanky holiday party in Playhouse Square.