Mark Weinstein - Three Deuces
Mark Weinstein's Three Deuces, his third album for LKC, was released in 2000 and is a collection of straight-ahead jazz duets for flute and guitars, three different types of guitars to be precise, played by three different guitarists.
The flute and guitar duo format presents quite a challenge to the most seasoned jazz flutist. On the one hand, the guitar complements the flute perfectly without overpowering it, on the other it leaves the flute completely exposed. Mark Weinstein here is playing without a safety net, as it were, particularly evident in the extended version of Last Minute Blues and Fall Guy.
The guitarists on Three Deuces are Ed Cherry on electric guitar, Vic Juris on steel string acoustic guitar, and Paul Meyers on nylon string guitar, each a seasoned player with a style of his own. Weinstein has played with each of them in duo setting before, so the choice was quite considered and deliberate.
Three standards, one Paul Meyers original, and nine Mark Weinstein originals make up Three Deuces. According to Weinstein, his originals here are all comments on jazz standards, compositions that reflect their essence rather than slavishly playing on their changes. Often, the titles of these originals often reflect or give a clue as to the original standard. This is most immediately obvious in Ella Starbright (Stella By Starlight), a little less so in Fall Guy (Autumn Leaves), and perhaps least so in Pas de Quoi, a bi-lingual pun - figure that one out for yourself.
Mark Weinstein's Three Deuces is an album full of delightful contrasts and surprises. For a start, there is the obvious contrast among the three different types of guitar and the styles of the guitarists. Then, the contrasts among the various pieces. And finally and most delightfully, the contrasts within individual pieces, such as contrasting sections and, most notably, the contrasts between changes and modes in the pieces with Paul Meyers.
The opener of Three Deuces, Last Minute Blues, has Mark Weinstein's flute singing and dancing, with soaring improvs and the subdued electric guitar of Ed Cherry, and very bluesy soloing by the latter. Andando brings the contrast of Paul Meyers' nylon string guitar and a more strident flute from Weinstein, at least in parts. The steel string guitar of Vic Juris and Mark Weinstein's soaring yet laid-back flute on Fall Guy swing beautifully and quite incredibly at all times. A cool, laid-back swing continues on Pas de Quoi but here with Cherry's electric guitar. Luna y Sol still swings, but in a more animated fashion with Meyers' here very latin-sounding guitar and Weinstein's soaring, merrily singing, dancing flute. Although the changes are completely different, Ella Starbright superbly captures both the overall structure and feel of Stella By Starlight. You can't help feeling you recognise this tune from someplace else, sometime long ago. Weinstein explores the low register of his flute most effectively in the opening section, but soon sings his heart out in the higher ones, while Juris' steel string guitar is crisp and keeps a gentle swing going. The first of the three standards makes its appearance in the form of Sweet Lorraine. Here, Mark Weinstein gives his wonderful alto flute an outing to Meyers' nylon string guitar. To hear Weinstein's alto here is to fall in love with it if you haven't before. You could wish the alto (and bass flute, for that matter) had been used much more extensively by jazz flutists than it has so far. Dawn's Early Light, inspired by a phrase from the Star Spangled Banner, seems to say a lot of different things about America musically, and Weinstein and Cherry are both very restrained and reflective here. The second of the standards, It Never Entered My Mind, once more sees Weinstein effectively exploring the low register of his flute for the best part of three minutes and returning to it intermittently, while Juris' guitar stays mostly well in the background. As the title might suggest, Estrallita brings a latin groove to Three Deuces, in a kind of latin swing. Mark Weinstein's flute sings and croons, while Paul Meyers' guitar brings sometimes flamenco-like touches. Stompin' At The Savoy is the last of the standards and has Weinstein returning once more to his alto. With Ed Cherry bringing just the right touch on his guitar, this has to be one of the 'coolest' swinging versions of Stompin' ever. Vic Juris' steel string guitar returns once more on Broadway Local, providing a crisp, dry tone to Weinstein's flute soaring away on flights of fancy. Last Minute Blues returns with an extended version as the closer of Three Deuces. Here, Cherry and Weinstein swing as if for dear life, with the latter singing, dancing and making a most joyful sound soaring into the stratosphere. Cherry's solos are more restrained and laid-back by contrast.
The liner of Mark Weinstein's Three Deuces includes a quote from the psalms, psalm 30 to be exact. It sums up this superb album very nicely, for Weinstein does indeed sing. All three guitarists also acquit themselves most excellently.
Three Deuces is no doubt Mark Weinstein's 'coolest', most relaxed, relaxing album to date. It also proves that swing still has plenty to say! Essential for the serious jazz fan.
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