Cory Weeds salutes an icon with winning vitality on Up a Step
Up a Step (Cellar Live)
In all honesty, you’d be better off taking your hard-earned money and spending it on A Caddy for Daddy or No Room for Squares or even the rare and pricey Complete Blue Note Hank Mobley Fifties Sessions, for no 21st-century tribute is going to quite replicate the hard-bop magic of the man sometimes known as “the middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone”. And so long as Cory Weeds has his artist hat on, and not his label-owner chapeau, he’d probably agree with me, because his obvious love for Hank Mobley’s originals comes through loud and clear on this live quartet session.
Up a Step further justifies its existence by recasting the former Jazz Messenger’s music for sax, organ, guitar, and drums, a combination Mobley rarely used. This band of all-stars, which also includes New York keyboardist Mike LeDonne and local stalwarts Oliver Gannon and Jesse Cahill, also generates considerable heat of its own, which becomes increasingly noticeable over Up A Step’s hourlong running time. It’s unclear whether the tunes are presented in the order they were played, but the disc certainly gives the impression of a fine jazz band loosening up and having fun as its set wears on, and in the end its vitality proves winning.
Cory Weeds plays Cory Weeds’ Cellar Jazz Club on Friday and Saturday (June 29 and 30), as part of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.