CD review: The Dave Weckl Band – Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival 2021: Video, Photos, CD cover

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St. Louis, home of great bar-b-que, the Gateway Arch, the Chesterfield Jazz and Wine Festival and drumming legend himself, Dave Weckl. Filmed and recorded at the 2019 Chesterfield Jazz and Wine Festival, this The Dave Weckl Band Live album is a triumph of musical mastery. Accompanying Mr. Weckl (drums) are Gary Meek (sax), Jay Oliver (keyboards), Tom Kennedy (bass), and Buzz Feiten (guitar).

From the soulful keys intro on “Tribute”, we are presented with an overall picture of just how sophisticated these musicians are. Each one bringing their years of musical talents to the table, the track is dynamic and heartfelt. The rhythm section of Weckl and Kennedy shines on “Rhythm-a-ning” having a musical showdown between drums and bass. Evidence that the rhythm section is the heart and soul of any ensemble. The tune is tight, groovy and entertaining.

“The Chicken” is a bonus track on the album and showcases why Dave Weckl is a legend in the drumming world, his playing (as usual) is flawless, seamless, and is the bar at which most (if not all!) of us drummers try to achieve. This was an encore jam at the end of the set where Dave invited Rob Silverman to play on his Zen Drum (Drumology), Michael Silverman on keys, and Eric Marienthal on Sax to close out the festival with this rocking tune.

What makes this album even more special is that it was the first live show of The Dave Weckl Band in over a decade. When the pandemic subsides and the live music floodgates are reopened, we should all enjoy a bit of Bar-b-que, wine and The Dave Weckl Band at the closest venue possible.

At a time where millions around the world are thankfully being vaccinated, the cure for live music blues has yet to be addressed. While nothing can replace the sound, the energy, and feel of live music, a medicinal record will be on the market in April 2021. While this reunion concert recorded in 2019 would no doubt be impactful sans the pandemic, the timing and dosage is fortuitous. Getting the gang back together, a la the Blues Brothers, Dave Weckl reunited band members Tom Kennedy, Jay Oliver, Buzz Feiten, and Gary Meek for a hometown performance at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival in St. Louis. Weckl, Kennedy, and Oliver are all from the St. Louis area and have played together since their early teens.

Formed in 1998, the Dave Weckl Band disbanded in 2006. The reunion is a reminder of their special connection and chemistry. Spirits were high as they took the stage and opened with “The Zone,” one of several selections from their landmark debut album Rhythm of the Soul (Stretch Records, 1998). Weckl’s thick pocket grooves set the tone early. The energy and enthusiasm of playing together again is apparent throughout this consistently explosive show. They jump right into boogie mode with Meek’s sax licks highlighting “Big B, Little B.” Feiten shines next with a slow building funky guitar growl in the “Mud Sauce.” Good things come to those who wait, as Kennedy then delivers the anticipated fine-edged bass solo. “101 Shuffle” has a Brecker Brothers kick to it that features everyone, with a nod to Feiten and Meek’s tenor.

From the album Hard Wired(GRP, 1994), Jay Oliver’s highly melodic “Tribute” is delivered with warmth and character. He leads the band and the audience on a moving journey to the heart. Lightening the mood and having some fun with “What Happened To My Good Shoes,” the Weckl-Kennedy rhythm section is in full stride with Weckl’s thunderous drumming and Kennedy’s fat bottom end leading to imaginative, tightly-punched interplay with Oliver, Meek, and Feiten. Again deftly changing courses, “Song for Claire” brings on the feel of a new dawn. Written in honor of the birth of Weckl’s daughter, the tune is awash in melodic sensibility before taking a clever upturn highlighted by Feiten’s fusion chops that are reminiscent of Michael Landau in texture, and in making every note count.

No Weckl and Kennedy performance is replete without a duet. The two have again played together since childhood. It would be hard to imagine a tighter rhythm section. It should be noted that despite the band breaking up in 2006, Weckl and Kennedy have continued to perform together in many forms over the years. What they do with the Thelonious Monk classic “Rhythm-A-Ning” is nothing short of remarkable. Their innate responses to each other in such intelligent form is one of the jazz world’s most precious gifts. It also allows the next tune, “Synergy” to really pop. With the entire quintet back on stage, the title track from Synergy (Stretch Records, 1999) sounds as if it was shot out of a cannon. Weckl and Kennedy find a tempo that glides at a strong pace without going pedal to the metal. The brilliant craftsmen they are, they make it seem easy. It creates beautiful space for their bandmates to maneuver within. They were up to the task and collectively knocked “Synergy” out of the park.

The high energy show ends with a funked up take on “Tower ’99.” Or at least it could have. It had a “leaving it all on the table” vibe to it. However, the band was having too much fun, and an appreciative crowd receives a rollicking encore of “Access Denied.” This potent fusion song has a rock power edge to it, while maintaining jazz grooves and sharp play on the chord progressions. To put it another way, it is a home run that sends the crowd home victorious.

This record won’t cure all your ills, but it reminds us of what we have been missing this past year, and of what is still to come.

  1. The Dave Weckl Band/Gary Meek/Buzz Feiten/Jay Oliver – The Zone (Live) (feat. Gary Meek, Buzz Feiten & Jay Oliver)
  2. The Dave Weckl Band/Gary Meek/Tom Kennedy – Big B Little B (Live) (feat. Gary Meek & Tom Kennedy)
  3. The Dave Weckl Band/Gary Meek/Buzz Feiten/Jay Oliver – Mud Sauce (Live) (feat. Gary Meek, Buzz Feiten & Jay Oliver)
  4. The Dave Weckl Band/Gary Meek/Buzz Feiten/Jay Oliver – 101 Shuffle (Live) (feat. Gary Meek, Buzz Feiten & Jay Oliver)
  5. The Dave Weckl Band/Gary Meek/Jay Oliver – Tribute (Live) (feat. Gary Meek & Jay Oliver)
  6. The Dave Weckl Band/Gary Meek/Tom Kennedy/Dave Weckl/Jay Oliver – What Happened to My Good Shoes? (Live) (feat. Gary Meek, Tom Kennedy, Dave Weckl & Jay Oliver)
  7. The Dave Weckl Band/Tom Kennedy/Dave Weckl – Song for Claire (Live) (feat. Tom Kennedy & Dave Weckl)
  8. The Dave Weckl Band/Dave Weckl/Jay Oliver – Rhythm-a-Ning (Drum & Bass Duet) [Live] (feat. Dave Weckl & Jay Oliver)
  9. The Dave Weckl Band/Gary Meek/Buzz Feiten/Dave Weckl/Jay Oliver – Synergy (Live) (feat. Gary Meek, Buzz Feiten, Dave Weckl & Jay Oliver)
  10. The Dave Weckl Band/Gary Meek/Tom Kennedy/Buzz Feiten/Dave Weckl/Jay Oliver – Tower ’99 (Live) (feat. Gary Meek, Tom Kennedy, Buzz Feiten, Dave Weckl & Jay Oliver)
  11. The Dave Weckl Band/Gary Meek/Buzz Feiten/Dave Weckl/Jay Oliver – Access Denied (Live) (feat. Gary Meek, Buzz Feiten, Dave Weckl & Jay Oliver)
  12. The Dave Weckl Band/Gary Meek/Dave Weckl/Rob Silverman/Mike Silverman/Eric Marienthal – The Chicken (Live) (feat. Gary Meek, Dave Weckl, Rob Silverman, Mike Silverman & Eric Marienthal)

Dave Weckl: drums;

Tom Kennedy: bass, electric;

Jay Oliver: keyboards;

Gary Meek: saxophone;

Buzz Feiten: guitar, electric

The Dave Weckl Band Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival  2019 - Album Review - April 9th, 2021 | Modern Drummer Magazine

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