"Over time Mark Weinstein has been identified as a fine performer of Latin Jazz, now shows a new side where brilliantly relates the Hebrew music with Jazz". Luis Raul Montell, Jazz Global Beat - Jazz Caribe
In his career, Mark Weinstein has performed, composed and arranged straight ahead jazz, salsa, Afro-Caribbean music, tangos, Afro-Cuban jazz, bossa novas, African folk songs, and other types of World Music. In each situation, the flutist successfully turned the music into jazz and played in his own style rather than feeling that he had to merely recreate the original versions and traditional forms. For his latest project, Mark performs melodies from the world of Hasidic music, transforming the traditional pieces into creative jazz while retaining their essence.
"I was in Israel doing academic work with some Palestinian educators," remembers Mark. "At the time I met guitarist Steve Peskoff, we did some playing together, and it felt very good. A year later when I returned to Israel, I asked Steve if he could put together a rhythm section for this project. I had always wanted to perform Hasidic music. Their songs were written for people to sing, so they often have strong and unforgettable melodies. On these melodies, I don't play my flute in a post-klezmer style but instead create in my own voice, which is jazz.
" Mark was very impressed by the players who Steve Peskoff brought to the project. "The musicians surprised me. I had played with percussionist Gilad Dobrecky in New York but Steve, his son drummer Haim Peskoff and bassist Gilad Abro are also superb players." The quintet quickly formed a tight and very attractive group sound that made it seem as if they had been playing together for years. Their concise solos, enthusiastic reactions to each other's ideas, and knack for embracing the traditional melodies while making the music sound fresh and contemporary, make this a special set of music.
The CD begins with Berditchever Nigun, a popular melody associated with the Hasidim from Berdichev a town in Northern Ukraine. Nigun is the Hebrew word for melody. Mark plays with plenty of spirit (he uses his technique to serve the music rather than vice versa) and there are spots for each of the musicians. Steve Peskoff's laidback guitar contrasts effectively with the energetic flutist.
Repozarás, which is played in 7/8 time, is a song for the Sabbath, which in English means "Thou Shall Rest." Mark solos over the infectious rhythm and comes up with consistently creative ideas that are complementary to the haunting melody. Mizmor l'David, a nigun of the Modzitz Hasidim, was composed in the middle part of the 20th century and is usually sung to the words of the 23rd Psalm. This adventurous treatment has modern harmonies contributed by Steve Peskoff (whose quiet but harmonically advanced solo recalls Jim Hall in spots), a heated improvisation by Mark, and close interplay by the drummer and percussionist both as accompanists and during their colorful tradeoff.
In addition to the five traditional pieces, Mark Weinstein contributed two originals and Steve Peskoff brought in one of his songs. Mark's Yaakov u'Malka is named after his parents Jack and Mollie Weinstein (Yaakov and Malka are their Jewish names) and is a lyrical waltz that stays melodic even when swinging hard. Peskoff's Adayin Chashoock (which in English is "It's Still Dark") is the most modern composition of the set, giving the quintet an opportunity to stretch out.
Ozidanie is a Russian waltz that was popular in the early part of the 20th century. As with the other selections, the music has been significantly re-harmonized, making it a very viable piece for jazz improvisation while keeping the melody close by. Mark Weinstein's Hebrew name is Meir and his Meir's Nigun is a scalar piece that challenges the musicians while being accessible to listeners. The final selection, Breslov Nigun, is the most spiritual of the album. The melody, which closes the album, is often sung without words before studying the Cabalistic text, the Zohar.
The musicians put a great deal of passion into this emotional performance.
One of the top flute players in jazz today, Mark Weinstein made his mark during the early part of his musical career as a trombonist. He was in Eddie Palmieri's first trombone section, wrote arrangements utilizing trumpets and trombones that became influential in defining the sound of New York salsa bands, and was an aggressive player whose Cuban Roots album (with Chick Corea on piano) is considered a classic. In the 1970s and '80s he changed direction, earning a Ph.D. in philosophy, becoming a college professor, and switching to the flute. "The flute gave me the possibility to play with much more harmonic complexity and subtlety than the trombone. My goal became to play with the drama of Miles Davis in the 1960s and the harmonic fluency of John Coltrane; they are my inspirations.
"For the future Mark says, "I want to stay with Jewish music for a while, for there is so much more to explore. The Hassidic repertoire of music is enormous." One looks forward to future chapters of Mark Weinstein in Jerusalem.Scott Yanow
Notes of Mark Weistein:
Flutist, composer and arranger, Mark Weinstein began his study of music at age six with piano lessons from the neighborhood teacher in Fort Green Projects in Brooklyn where he was raised. Between then and age 14 when he started to play trombone in Erasmus Hall High School, he tried clarinet and drums. Playing his first professional gig on trombone at 15, he added string bass, a common double in NYC at that time.
Mark learned to play Latin bass from Salsa bandleader Larry Harlow. He experimented playing trombone with Harlow’s band and three years later, along with Barry Rogers, formed Eddie Palmieri’s first trombone section, changing the sound of salsa forever. With his heart in jazz, Weinstein was a major contributor to the development of the salsa trombone playing and arranging. He extended jazz attitudes and techniques in his playing with salsa bands. His arrangements broadened the harmonic base of salsa while introducing folkloric elements for authenticity and depth. The only horn in a Latin jazz quintet led by Larry Harlow at the jam session band at Schenks Paramount Hotel in the Catskills, soloist and arranger with Charlie Palmieri in the first trumpet and trombone salsa band in NYC, arranger and featured soloist along with the great Cuban trumpet player Alfredo Chocolate Armenteros in Orchestra Harlow, and with the Panamanian giant Victer Paz in the La Playa Sextet, and with the Alegre All Stars, Mark’s playing and arranging was a major influence on Salsa trombone and brass writing in the 60s and 70s.
Mark continued to record with Eddie Palmieri, with Cal Tjader and with Tito Puente. He toured with Herbie Mann for years, played with Maynard Ferguson, and the big bands of Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Jones and Lewis, Lionel Hampton, Duke Pearson and Kenny Dorham. In 1967 he wrote and recorded the Afro-Cuban jazz album, Cuban Roots for the legendary salsa producer Al Santiago. It revolutionized Latin jazz; combining authentic folkloric drum ensembles with harmonically complex extended jazz solos and arrangements. Chick Corea was on piano and the rhythm section included the finest and most knowledgeable Latin drummers: Julito Collazo, Tommy Lopez Sr. and Papaito (timbalero with La Sonora Matancera).
In the early 1970’s Mark took time off from music to earn a Ph.D in Philosophy with a specialization in mathematical logic. He became a college professor and remains so until this day. When he returned to the music scene in 1978 playing the flute, he wrote produced and recorded the Orisha Suites with singer Olympia Alfara, the great Colombian jazz pianist Eddy Martinez and percussionists Steve Berrios, Julito Collazo, Papaito and Papiro along with an Afro-Cuban chorus. Unreleased until recently, music from the Orisha Suites became the theme for Roger Dawson’s Sunday Salsa Show on WRVR.
Mark returned to jazz with a vengeance, working gigs and recording over a dozen CD’s since 1997. Seasoning, his first flute CD experimented with different settings for the flute, including a quartet with vibist Bryan Carrott and Cecil Brooks III on drums and a trio of flute and two guitars with Vic Juris and Rob Reich. In 1998, Mark recorded Jazz World Trios with Brazilian master guitarist Romero Lubambo and award winning percussionist Cyro Baptista. Their exploration of Brazilian themes with classical guitar and percussion contrasted with a freebop trio with Santi Debriano on bass and Cindy Blackman on drums. Jean Paul Bourelly and Milton Cardone completed the set with music based on Santeria themes. The release of Three Deuces in 2000, paired Mark with guitarists Vic Juris, Ed Cherry and Paul Meyers.
Because of limited distribution and more demand that albums available, Mark rerecorded the material from the original Cuban Roots with new arrangements and the help of such giants of Cuban music as pianist Omar Sosa, percussionists Francisco Aquabella, Lazaro Galarraga, John Santos, Jose De Leon, and Nengue Hernandez. It was co-produced with his nephew, trombonist, violinist and arranger Dan Weinstein for Michael McFadin and CuBop Records.
In 2002 Mark had the incredible opportunity to go to Kiev, Ukraine, where his father was born, to record the music of the Ukrainian composer Alexey Kharchenko. Milling Time, the record that they made, stretched his playing in a number of directions, from modern classical music to smooth jazz to Ukrainian folk music. He continued his exploration of his roots with a jazz album of Jewish music with Mike Richmond on bass, Brad Shepik on guitar and Jamey Haddad on drums and percussion. He then turned to Brazil and the music of Hermeto Pascoal’s Calendario do Som, entitled Tudo de Bom with guitarist and vocalist Richard Boukas, Nilson Matta on bass, Paulo Braga on drums and Vanderlei Pereira on percussion.
In 2005 he began his ongoing association with Jazzheads record recording another version of Cuban Roots called Algo Más, with Jean Paul Bourelly playing electric guitar, Santi Debriano on bass, Thelonious Monk award winning percussionist and vocalist Pedrito Martinez, as well as Nani Santiago, Gene Golden and Skip Burney on congas and batá drums. His next release on Jazzheads was O Nosso Amor with Brazilian jazz masters Romero Lubambo, Nilson Matta and Paulo Braga along with percussionists Guilherme Franco and Jorge Silva. This was followed by Con Alma, a Latin Jazz album featuring Mark Levine on piano, Santi Debriano on bass, Pedrito Martinez playing conga and drummer Mauricio Hererra. Next a straight-ahead album, Straight No Chaser, with guitarist Dave Stryker, bassist Ron Howard and Victor Lewis on drums. A return to Brazilian music, Lua e Sol, saw Romero Lubambo and Nilson Mata joined by award winning percussionist Cyro Baptista.
Mark took time out from Jazzheads to record an album for Otá records in Berlin with Grammy nominated pianist Omar Sosa playing vibes, marimbas and piano along with Ali Keita on balafon, Mathais Ogbukoa and Aho Luc Nicaise on African percussion, bassist Stanislou Michalou and Marque Gilmore on drums. Back to Jazzheads, Mark recorded Timbasa with the percussion team of Pedrito Martinez and Mauricio Hererra, joined by Ramon Diaz with the young giants Axel Laugart on piano and bassist Panagiotis Andreou. This was followed by Jazz Brasil with NEH Jazzmaster Kenny Barron on piano along with Nilson Matta and drummer Marcello Pellitteri. His most recent album, El Cumbanchero was recorded with a string ensemble and arranged by Cuban piano virtuoso Aruán Ortiz, along with Yunior Terry on bass and percussionists Mauricio Herrera and Yusnier Bustamante.
Next up is an album of tangos with GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY nominee, bassist Pablo Aslan, and featuring Latin GRAMMY winner Raul Jaurena playing the bandoneon, pianist Abel Rongatoni and guitarist Francisco Navarro that gave name "Todo Corazon" achieved the same recognition from the South American country of Tango, but as usual was mixing with Jazz, this was his last production with Jazzheads.
It did not take long for Mr. Weinstein was back to the studios, now with Zoho Music, and gathering a small but select group of musicians: Aruan Ortiz, piano; Rahshaan Carter, bass; Gerald Claver, and Roman Diaz drums, percussion, publishes "Latin Jazz Underground" something out of the ordinary.
And now "In Jerusalem" are more surprises ... Mark ...!