Saturday, May 13, 2017

Dave Weckl - 1994 "Hard Wired"

What was true of Master Plan is also true of Dave Weckl's third album as a leader of Hard-Wired -- it isn't the fusion masterpiece Weckl is capable of delivering, but it certainly isn't bad either. This time, the drummer's guests include keyboardist Jay Oliver and bassist Anthony Jackson as well as bassist John Patitucci, who like Weckl, was no longer a member of Chick Corea's Akoustic and Elektric Bands and was making his own albums a priority. The album's main emphasis is fusion that is fairly accessible, yet substantial and improvisatory. Tunes like the Asian-influenced title song and the groove-oriented "Crazy Horse" weren't recorded with hard bop's hard-liners in mind, but at the same time, they don't pander to NAC radio. As enjoyable as this album is, it isn't essential. One sensed that Weckl's best work as a leader was yet to come.

When you read other reviews (and mine!) just remember the profound musing ... opinions are like [anatomical descriptor here]: everyone's got one. Now for my second disclaimer: I am a drummer. That said, I enjoy this CD as much for the stellar non-percussion composition and performances as much as I do for the stellar percussion composition and performances.

This CD sizzles. It has some songs on it that could be said to have been written with "pop"y hooks in them, yes. It also has a masterful latin piece ("Dis' Place This") with some wild rhythms in it (love that piano part!), whimsical tunes ("Afrique" and "Just an Illusion"), moody songs ("In Flight" and "Where's Tom?"), jazzy urban grooves ("Crazy Horse" (amazing keyboard work) and "In the Pocket"), and a soulful, somber finish ("Tribute") with a wonderfully rich piano part (it takes getting through about a minute of muted key tones played to a ride cymbal to get to it) that the sax picks up and follows along with. The entire horn section is well-written and well-played throughout the album.

Weckl definitely gets his time in the spotlight, and NO ONE can do it quite like him. Some of the songs did take a few listens to get into, I admit, but this is now one of my favorite CDs of all time. If you think the samples on Amazon are interesting AT ALL, then BUY IT. I don't think you'll feel you wasted any money after only a few plays.

This is not only my favorite Weckl CD, but one of my favorite CDs of all time. When I heard Weckl with Chick's Electric Band I was blown away at his sound. When I heard his compositions on "Master Plan" with Jay Oliver, I was Floored. I had no idea this guy was as great a composer as he was a drummer! Not only are these guys masters of their instruments, they are also amazing composers. The rhythms, the melodies, the solos, are all beyond incredible. Jay Oliver is simply the best soloist I have ever heard. His 'mimic guitar' solo in "Crazy Horse" is the coolest 'guitar solos' I have ever heard. Whether you play drums, bass, guitar, keys, sax, horns or just love hearing the finest compositions played by the finest musicians, GET THIS CD! You will be BLOWN AWAY!

Hard Wired is definitely an improvement over Dave's previous solo album "Heads Up," especially in the aspect of songwriting. It might still be somewhat of a drummer's album, but after all it IS a drummer's album! Dave plays some great grooves with some crazy beat displacement/syncopation on the more latin-fusion flavored tracks, as well as some straighter pocket playing. Just an interesting side note- the "guitar" solo on track 5 that is mentioned in other reviews is actually Jay Oliver using a unique sound on the keyboard, and using the pitch bend! This is a must have for drummers, but also a good album for anyone who appreciates jazz fusion oriented, instrumental music.  

Track listing:

1     Hard-Wired     4:02
2     Afrique     5:53
3     Dis' Place This     6:38
4     In Flight     6:11
5     Crazy Horse     5:41
6     Just An Illusion     5:09
7     Where's Tom?     5:09
8     In The Pocket     5:29
9     Tribute     5:09


    Drum, Drum Programming – Dave Weckl
    Bass – Anthony Jackson (tracks: 1, 2, 3,), James Genus (tracks: 5, 6, 7), John Patitucci (tracks: 4, 9)
    Bass [Programming] – Jay Oliver (tracks: 8)
    Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Electronic Wind Instrument – Steve Tavaglione
    Synthesizer, Piano, Organ – Jay Oliver
    Trumpet – Scott Alspach