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All About Jazz has great things to say about “Dare To Be” by Behn Gillece

mindset2When it comes to jazz vibraphone, the names of Stefon Harris and Warren Wolf are most likely to be found on a list of contemporary leaders. Add to that now the name of Behn Gillece, a gentleman who has been honing his skills on the New York scene since 2006. His talents first came to the attention of this reviewer having been a spirited voice on Walt Weiskopf‘s most recent albums, Overdrive and The Way You Say It. Last year, he debuted as a leader with the album Mindset, this sophomore offering coming fast on its heels.

Gillece has obviously taken in the history of his instrument, but speaks with a singular voice and purpose. His tone and attack are on the softer side, not unlike the work of Bobby Hutcherson. Also quite notable, he writes the majority of his own compositions. This too is a major factor in his clarity of purpose, along with the fact that his ensemble choice is an inspired one. A student of Jon Faddis‘ who is making a name for himself on the current scene, trumpeter Bruce Harris can be heard on three tracks. Gillece makes the most of the unique blend between horn and vibes, especially when it comes to the muted trumpet on “From Your Perspective.”

More integral to the entire set is guitarist Nate Radley, who is a perfect foil for Gillece. His chordal accompaniment and solo lines support the vibes in a manner quite different than a piano might do. The soulful “Amethyst” is a perfect spot to sample Radley’s tonal range, from single note riffs to dark and brooding washes of sound. Bobby Hutcherson’s “Same Shame” even finds the guitarist sporting a Frisell-like tone that is pure Americana.

Veteran bassist Ugonna Okegwo and talented drummer on the rise Jason Tiemann are also integral to the proceedings. Dig their tight up tempo slam throughout “Signals” or the way they inject a straight-eighth feel to both “Live It” and “Dare to Be.” As for Gillece himself, there’s quite of range of abilities on display here. Be it the burning bebop of “Trapezoid” or the mature ballad statement delivered on Johnny Mandel’s “A Time for Love,” Gillece gets down to serious business and he’s a name we should be hearing more and more of in the coming years.

C. Andrew Hovan – All About Jazz

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The Way Walt Weiskopf Plays It

mindset2One of the musical highlights in a Wisconsin summer full of them is the scheduled appearance of Steely Dan and Steve Winwood at the BMO Harris Pavilion in Milwaukee on July 16th.

The Inquisition suspects that there are many upsides to being Donald Fagen and Walter Becker; one is that after four decades of critical acclaim and multi-platinum albums including Grammy Best Album-winning “Two Against Nature,” the duo is positioned to record and tour with their choice of the best players in the world.

Exhibit A is tenor saxophonist Walt Weiskopf, whose new album, “The Way You Say It,” is receiving outstanding reviews.

Fox Cities jazz aficionados may recall Weiskopf from his outstanding contributions to former Big Band Reunion leader and Lawrence University professor Bob Levy’s breakthrough album, “Crossover,” on Stellar Sound Productions that also included John Harmon, Janet Planet, Tom Washatka, Dane Richeson, Ken Schaphorst and Matt Turner. Weiskopf played on four cuts and contributed his own original composition, “Southwest Blues.”

“Walt is a great player who has been influenced by all the great ones,” Levy said. “It was a real kick playing with him. He’s very easy-going and very giving. There is no ego with Walt. He’s got a lot of confidence but without ego.”

Weiskopf and his tenor sax will take the stage with Steely Dan in Milwaukee. His technical prowess and his team-play mindset have made him an excellent addition to the band for the last 15 years.

“In 2002 I got a call for horn section dates for (Steely Dan’s album) “Everything Must Go” and subsequently was called to play on the title tune,” Weiskopf recalls. “The following January, Walter (Becker) called me and asked me to tour with the band that year and of course I said I would be thrilled to do it. Since the ’03 tour, we’ve toured in ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’11, ’13, ’14, and ’15 as well as this year. In 2010 and ’12, I toured with The Dukes of September; a band led by Donald with Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald.”

He was also a key contributor to Fagen’s solo albums, “Morph The Cat,” and “Sunken Condos.”

“I love being a part of a great band and Steely Dan is certainly all of that,” Weiskopf said. “Playing with this band since 2003 has been a great pleasure and continues to be a hugely artistic, gratifying and creative challenge.”

Weiskopf has sixteen albums of his own to his credit; “The Way You Say It” is his third release for Posi-Tone Records, following the critically-acclaimed “Overdrive” (2014) and “Open Road” (2015). Its twelve cuts include nine Weiskopf originals including the title tune. It features organist Brian Charette, Behn Gillece playing vibraphone and drummer Steve Fidyk, all of whom are beneficiaries of Weiskopf’s generosity and respond with inspired playing and solos that are superb complements to his virtuosity and command of his instrument.

The title composition is the closing track on the album. Gillece sets the stage for some of Weiskopf’s most heart-felt and melodic playing augmented by Charette’s understated support. Weiskopf did not have to go very far for inspiration.

“The Way You Say It,” is dedicated to my wife, Marcie,” he said. “She has the most pleasing, inviting, tuneful speaking voice I’ve ever heard and it always reminds that it’s not what you play, it’s how you play it and it’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it.”

The album opens with Weiskopf’s “Coffee and Scones,” an up-tempo valentine to “two of my favorite things,” that showcases each musician’s talents in solos that are energetic and melodic, but never forced and fit easily into the groove. The subject matter is not just inspirational but practical.

“I like a dark roast red eye and a blueberry scone – the blueberry gives me the illusion that I am eating healthy – followed by 90 minutes of practicing my horn on a caffeine high.”

Another Weiskopf original “Separation,” follows, and the composer bookends Charette’s precise yet beautifully understated solo with some of his best and most inventive playing.

“For me personally, being on the road apart from the one you love for long periods of time is the most challenging thing about being a musician,” Weiskopf said. “I am so lucky the beautiful woman I married understands my career as a musician.”

On the flip side, Weiskopf’s musical wanderings have taken him to some fabulous places.

“Inntoene, is a tip-of-the-hat to one of the best international jazz festivals anywhere,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back to the beautiful town of Diersbach, Austria, and play with these great musicians.”

The band blends seamlessly at the outset of “Dreamlining,” an examination of “the best kind of dreaming – floating effortlessly and swinging from the clouds – the kind of dream that you wish would last longer than it usually does” before Weiskopf steps out and explores the lower registers of his tenor and Charette eases into yet another ear-pleasing solo.

Weiskopf’s technical mastery is off and running with both speed and precision on “Blues Combination,” inspired by John Coltrane’s “Locomotion.” Intrigued by Ray Charles’s take on the tune, Weiskopf grooves effortlessly on “Candy.”

“I’ve wanted to try this one for years and finally worked up my nerve,” Weiskopf said. “It was nice to have the beauty of Brian’s organ to lean on throughout this one. A quick, down and dirty vision in D minor. ‘Envisioned’ follows. I love hearing Behn bang those bars on the shout chorus. When Charette solos, you can almost see his fingers flying up and down the keyboard.”

Homesickness for the cloudy skies of Syracuse, NY, inspired “Invisible Sun,” which is followed by “Manny Boy.”

“Never would I have believed a year ago that I could feel so much love for a dog,” Weiskopf said. “A year ago, Marcie and I rescued Manny. He has shown me a whole new side of myself.”

Weiskopf et al serve up creative takes on Weather Report’s “Scarlett Woman,” and Charlie Parker’s “Segment,” before concluding with “The Way You Say It.”
“Segment, is the currently the Charlie Parker tune that I am most obsessed with and I hope Bird would’ve have understood my compulsion to modulate up a half-step,” he said. “I love Weather Report and ‘Scarlett Woman’ in particular. It turned out to be a great vehicle for Steve to showcase his grooviness.”

George Halas – SCENE

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Behn Gillece new one “Dare To Be” reviewed by Midwest Record

mindset2The vibe ace might have dedicated this set to Gary Burton, but he tips the cap to Bobby Hutcherson as well.  And he probably has Milt Jackson in the back of his mind.  A different sounding set that what he’s turned in on past dates, Gillece is in command of his ax as well as his position as a leader.  Quite an engaging date that’s a real tonic for jaded (Tjaded?) ears, this is a swell serving of mighty fine sitting down jazz sure to get you shaking in your seat.  Well done throughout.

Midwest Record

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Chance Meeting Lands Junior Role as Drummer on “Father Figure” by Michael Dease

mindset2A UT student drummer has made his professional debut on a recently released album.

Luther Allison, a junior jazz student in UT’s School of Music, recently recorded on jazz trombonist Michael Dease’s newest album, Father Figure, which was released on April 22.

When one of his professors recommended him for the drummer at the Jazz Trombone Institute summer camp in Brevard, North Carolina, Allison never imagined the doors that would open for him.

“My father would always tell me ‘Always be ready because you never know when people will discover you,’” said Allison.

Dease was performing at the camp and was impressed by Allison’s talent on the drums. It was there that Dease asked Allison to perform on his album.

In early October, Allison drove eleven hours from Hess Hall to Brooklyn, New York, to meet with Dease and other professional and collegiate musicians performing on the album. They spent the following week rehearsing, recording the album, and performing shows in New York and Michigan, getting little sleep and practicing through the night.

“I was having the time of my life,” said Allison. “I was sleeping for an hour and a half or two hours a night, but my adrenaline was pumping the whole week, so missing sleep wasn’t an issue.”

“I knew right away, from his phone interview, that I was about to meet a special soul full of passion and humility,” said Dease. “After our first rehearsal I was convinced of his immense talent, which is somewhat hidden by his sincerity and maturity.”

The opportunity to record with Dease allowed Allison to showcase his skills but also taught him a valuable lesson.

“The biggest lesson I learned from this experience is to pace myself, whether it be musically or in my life in general,” said Allison. “If this is the career path I want to have in the future, I have to be in shape mentally, physically, emotionally, and professionally to keep up with the lifestyle.”

Allison is already a disciplined musician. He practices five hours a day and maintains a 3.7 grade point average. He also takes to heart the advice and constructive feedback of his professors and mentors.

“Mentorship is something I think is imperative in bringing up the next generation. In order to be able to keep tradition going, you really need your predecessors to set the tone for what you need to do in the future. Dease did an extraordinary job in taking me under his wing and introducing me to other musicians. It’s both humbling and exciting—it makes me want to work that much harder because I want to live up to his expectations,” said Allison.

Recording on Father Figure has opened academic opportunities for Allison. He plans on continuing his education in music performance, with a focus on jazz, at the master’s and doctoral levels. He wants to perform and tour early on in his career but hopes to eventually teach at a university.

“Luther did a standout job in my band,” said Dease. “I’m proud to have captured those moments forever on disc, and he brought the highest level of attention, positivity, and skill to my recording session.”

Amy Blakely

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Something Else gives us a view of “The Way You Say It” by Walt Weisfopf

mindset2Walt Weiskopf wrote the book on jazz harmonics and improvisation…actually about ten of so books on those topics. But the best demonstration of his firm grasp on the building blocks for good jazz rests in his records, and his fifteenth one, The Way You Say It (April 8, 2016, Posi-Tone Records), is the latest chapter of his recorded book of work.


No matter how much Walt Weiskopf mixes things up for The Way You Say It, the craftsmanship shines through.

S. Victor Aaron – Something Else Reviews

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Saxophone Today reviews Walt Weiskopf’s “The Way You Say It”

mindset2Saxophonist and composer Walt Weiskopf has been a major contributor in the New York (which is to say, world-wide) jazz scene since the early 1980s. After completing studies at the prestigious Eastman School of Music, Weiskopf joined the Buddy Rich Big Band followed by a fourteen-year tenure with the Toshiko Akiyoshi big band. During his time with Akiyoshi and beyond, Weiskopf began recording his own albums playing almost exclusively original music with a variety of groups. Weiskkopf also began his long-running and current association with Steely Dan.

In addition, Weiskopf has become one of the most respected authors in jazz pedagogy starting with his first two books, Coltrane: A Players Guide to His Harmony and The Augmented Scale in Jazz (both co-authored with Ramon Ricker). Other books that followed include Intervalic Improvisation (1994), Around the Horn (2001), Beyond the Horn (co-authored with Ed Rosenberg)(2010) and Understanding the Diminished Scale (2012). Weiskopf has been on the faculty of the Eastman School of Music, Temple University and is currently Coordinator of Jazz Studies at New Jersey City University.
The Way marks Weiskopfs third CD as leader for Posi¬tone, besides at least another dozen for other labels, and represents a change in format, in that Weiskopf uses a modified organ trio as his vehicle of choice. The music, as is his custom, is almost all original, with the exception of three tunes.

To say that Weiskpopf is a master saxophonist is to overstate the obvious. Weiskopf has a clear, clean, centered sound, lickitey-split technique and personality to spare. That covers the “How To Play” side. On the “What to play” side, Weiskopfs melodic, harmonic and rhythmic acumen are massive. All of these attributes are eminently clear in the opening track, a medium-up-tempo blues, Coffee and Scones.

The quirky melody is played by unison tenor and vibes with Weiskopf taking the first solo. As mentioned before, Weiskopf has lots of personality in his playing, beginning with the fact that he plays with no vibrato at all and ends long pitches by just stopping the air, no taper at all. Both of these conditions contribute to his unique voice, but there’s more. Yet another factor are the notes and harmonies that Weiskopf uses. Each chorus that he plays finds him going down a different harmonic path, allowing him to keep the listener interested and on the edge of their seat all at once. Good solos by Gillece and Charette as well.

Inntoene, a barnburner taken at warp speed, is an example of good straight-a-head blowing. Tenor and vibes play the intricate melody once again, with Weiskopf taking the first solo, barreling down the highway, dropping one cleanly executed line after another like some many bombs over his shoulder.

The first of the tunes not written by Weiskopf is the now obscure Candy, by Alex Kramer (lyrics by Mack David & Joan Whitney). Performed as a ballad, for me, this is the money tune of the recording. Weiskopf plays the melody and goes right into his solo chorus paying homage to John Coltrane, with a touch of Jerry Bergonzi. His reading of the melody is just beautiful, and his solo is a study in “this is what a jazz player should be able to do with a tune,” playing it from every angle while still keeping all the music intact.

Segment, by Charlie Parker is another up-tempo gem, with Weiskopf and company just gliding through the changes and the changes of key with ease. Again, Weiskopf displays a complete understanding of harmony and the post-bebop language.Never at a loss for an idea, his lines just flow from one to the other. After a brief two-chorus romp from Weiskopf, Gillece plays his own well executed solo. Tenor and vibes trade eights, then fours for a chorus each before a shout chorus and the final reading of the melody.

The title tune, a prety ballad by the leader closes the CD. The melody is shared by tenor and vibes followed by short solos by Charette and Weiskopf. The mellow feel of the tune lets you down easy after the  action packed recording.

Walt Weiskopf is a power with which to be reckoned; if you are not familiar with his playing, this recording is a great place to start to get to know him.

Billy Kerr – Saxophone Today

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Downbeat hops on the trail blazed by Michael Dease on “Father Figure”

mindset2Michael Dease is an inventive trombonist with an athletically tuneful sound and a predilection for bringing his instrument’s voice to the fore. Having built the foundation of his career as a section player in bands led by Christian McBride and Roy Hargrove, he has now become a preeminent leader in his own right. Within his preferred artistic setting—the bop-oriented small group—he has recorded a number of fine recordings for Posi-Tone. Father Figure, his latest for the label, is as poignant a statement as he’s ever made. The album places Dease in the dignified role of jazz elder amid a crew of young and hungry jazz musicians: saxophonists Immanuel Wilkins and Markus Howell (who split lead duties on alternating tracks), drummer Luther Allison, bassist Endea Owens, vibraphonist Behn Gillece and pianist Glenn Zaleski, who appeared on Dease’s previous album, Decisions, and who exudes an almost telepathic bond with the trombonist. The two share the spotlight on an exceptionally swinging version of “Marian The Librarian,” and create swaths of dreamy magic on “Brooklyn.” And while Dease’s limber, flickering bop lines are an undeniable attraction (check the machine-gun tonguing on “Riff Raff”), it’s his ability to shape a group dynamic that really makes an impression. On group jams like “Church Of The Good Hustle” and Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation,” he blazes a trail that his young acolytes seem all too happy to follow.

BRIAN ZIMMERMAN   Downbeat site review

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New York City Jazz Record know it’s “The Way You Say It” by Walt Weiskopf

mindset2With over three-and-a-half decades in the New York jazz scene, beginning with Buddy Rich and Toshiko Akiyoshi, Walt Weiskopf is long established as a hard-blowing tenor saxophonist and creative composer. Accompanied by Charette, up-and-coming vibraphonist Behn Gillece and Steve Fidyk, most of The Way You Say It focuses on Weiskopf’s potent originals, starting with the percolating blues “Coffee and Scones”. The catchy unison theme of “Blues Combination” is negotiated with the confidence of a working band, Fidyk providing a strong undercurrent. Alex Kramer-Joan Whitney-Mack David’s “Candy” was long favored by soul jazz saxophonists and this understated interpretation pays homage to past greats, with sublime organ and soft brushwork supplying the perfect backdrop. There’s a change in direction with the dramatic setting of Weather Report’s “Scarlet Woman”, then an effortless galloping through Charlie Parker’s bop gem “Segment” before cooling off the listener with the lush title ballad.

New York City Jazz Record


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Step Tempest gives us the guidance on “Father Figure” by Michael Dease

mindset2The brand new Dease disk, “Father Figure“, not only casts the trombonist in the role of leader but also mentor.  He, Glenn Zaleski (a young pro) and Behn Gillece (vibraphone) are the veterans in an ensemble that also features bassist Endea Owens, drummer Luther Allison plus alto saxophonists Markus Howell and Immanuel Wilkins.  Ms. Owens and Mr. Allison make for an impressive rhythm section throughout, her active lines not just supporting but also offering counterpoint while his cymbal work is exemplary as are his choices of when to “push.” Howell appears on 6 of the 11 tracks; he has a bright sound and many of his phrases joyfully dance above the rhythm section.  Wilkins, still in his teens, seems to have a more supportive role on his 4 appearances but does get off a raucous solo on the opener “Church of the Good Hustler.” Mr. Gillece appears on most of the tracks and his vibes sound mesh nicely with the different lineups on the disk. His rippling sound is a highlight on Dease’s “Brooklyn“, named for both the borough in which his family lives and also for his baby daughter.

There are numerous highlights throughout, among them the playful “Marian The Librarian” (from Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man”).  Dease and Zaleski caress the melody as the rhythm section dances delightfully in support. That quartet return to the Broadway and Hollywood hit for a sweet turn through “Till There Was You”, the melody lovingly played on trombone and followed by a jaunty solo.  Michael Howell’s “The Pursuit for Inspiration” is a medium-tempo ballad with Dease and Howell playing the melody – the young alto saxophonist plays a fine, assured, solo while Ms. Owens’ counterpoint stands out.  “Annette’s For Sure“, from the pen of trumpeter Claudio Roditi, is a sweet romp with strong solos from the leader, Zaleski, and Howell. The quintet (with Gillece and Howell but minus Zaleski) visit the blues on “Riff Raff“, a sweetly-played tune from trombonist Grachan Moncur III with excellent solos all around.  Gillece takes his over the rhythm section only and it really shines.  The title track closes the album on a bop-ish note with the leader creating a snappy melody and a sparkling solo (including a sneaky quote from “Parisian Thoroughfare” at the onset.) Ms. Owens take a short but excellent break before Zaleski shows off his Bud Powell-like chops.

With “Father Figure”, Michael Dease shines the spotlight on a fine group of musicians, several of whom he has worked with during his tenure on the faculty of Michigan State University. He’s generous with solo time for the members of the ensemble but don’t lose of the sight of the fact that he himself is a fine soloist, often with a most handsome tone. This music is a delightful way to spend the day.

Step Tempest – Richard Kamins

Posted on reviews “Father Figure” by Michael Dease

mindset2On his ninth CD (third for Posi-Tone), Michael Dease cuts loose with a wildly swingin’ post-boppin’ assemblage of talent on vibraphone, piano, bass, drums and two alto saxophones wherein the trombone man serves as Father Figure to some crazily talented youngsters and veterans alike (pianist Glenn Zaleski and vibraphonist Behn Gillece shine throughout) on originals and well-picked covers, or, as we like to say in the music-listenin’ business: discreeto pickos.

Leading off with a tune Dease wrote specifically with a scene from Robert Rossen’s 1961 film The Hustler in mind, wherein Fast Eddie Felsen walks into the home pool hall of Minnesota Fats, calling it the “Church of the Good Hustler,” he follows it up with “Brooklyn” (for his daughter, not the city) and “Cry of the Wolf” (they say the howl of the arctic wolf can be heard for 10 miles across the tundra. It’s a tortured, anguished sound.) Having two altos in your jazz band means you must cover Jackie McLean. Here, Grachan Moncur III’s “Riff Raff” is an exquisite recreation of a blues off McLean’s 1964 Destination Out album.

Having played in the band of Brazilian trumpeter Claudio Roditi (as well as in the bands of Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, The Heath Brothers and Rufus Reid), Dease covers Roditi’s “Anette’s For Sure” before tackling Mulgrew Miller’s “Wingspan” and even “Marian the Librarian” and “‘Til There Was You” from Meredith Wilson’s 1957 Broadway musical, “The Music Man.” He closes with the title track, written for his bassist Endrea Owens, who was his student at Michigan State University. It sounds eerily similar to “All God’s Children Got Rhythm,” the jazz standard which came from the 1937 Marx Brothers movie A Day at the Races.

Dease received his Masters from Julliard to quickly become an in-demand session cat on CDs by Alicia Keys, Paul Simon, Elton John and Neil Diamond. He’s now well on his way to becoming one of the most respected new ‘bone men in the business. – Mike Greenblatt