Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

The Dave Weckl Band Reunites For A Very Special Live Album

The Dave Weckl Band: Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival captures a brilliant return to form by one of jazz fusion's most virtuosic ensemble.

The Dave Weckl Band Reunites For A Very Special Live Album

When the legendary Dave Weckl Band reunited on stage at the 2019 Chesterfield Wine & Jazz Festival in St. Louis, Missouri, the show was already a rare and very special occasion. But even playing their first real show together in more than a decade, the band had no idea how special the set would feel just a few months later.

Arriving a year into a global pandemic that's left audiences around the world starving for live music, The Dave Weckl Band: Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival 2019 not only provides a potent reminder of the spirit and energy that we've all been missing during quarantine, but captures a brilliant return to form by one of jazz fusion's most influential and virtuosic ensembles.

JazzTimes has the video premiere for the album's first single, "Big B Little B," here:
https://jazztimes.com/audio-video/premieres/jt-video-premiere-big-b-little-b-dave-weckl-band/

Due out April 9, 2021 via Autumn Hill Records, The Dave Weckl Band: Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival 2019 reunites drummer Weckl with founding band members Jay Oliver (keyboards), Tom Kennedy (bass) and, for the first time in more than 20 years, Buzz Feiten on guitar. They're joined by Weckl's longtime saxophonist of choice, Gary Meek, who joined in 2003 - making this a unique but integral incarnation of the band. The music will be released digitally through Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube and other streaming platforms, while a full HD video will be available exclusively to subscribers of the Dave Weckl Online School.

"It's a really good feeling for me to have the band come back together and perform this music that we conceived 25 or 30 years ago," Weckl says. "Especially now, to be able to share the live experience since many of us haven't had much of a chance to do this lately, since it feels like we've been living on another planet. I think people are hungrier than ever just to have a reminder like this."

The Dave Weckl Band came back together at the invitation of St. Louis musicians Rob and Mike Silverman, co-founders of the Chesterfield Festival. Longtime fans, the Silvermans also share the hometown pride of fellow St. Louis natives Weckl, Oliver and Kennedy - all three of whom have played together since their teenage years in the city, making the gig a homecoming as well as a reunion.

Outside of a few intimate benefit performances by a quartet version of the band in celebration of Weckl and Oliver's 2014 duo project Convergence, the band had not performed together since disbanding in 2006. Once they reconvened, however, it was evident that the old chemistry was more than intact. "It was a very joyous, special moment from down beat one," Weckl recalls. "From the very first song that we started rehearsing there was such a great sound and a great feeling, even though the chemistry was a little bit different in the sense that Buzz had never played with Gary. I immediately though, 'Oh man, I remember now how cool this was.'"

Oliver agrees, saying, "It was absolute magic. We couldn't stop smiling. The minute we started playing, we all just stopped and looked at each other. We'd forgotten how much of a groove, a magic, and a synergy there is when we play together. It's a thing that I cannot really describe, but it feels really good."

The Dave Weckl Band was formed in 1998, after the drummer had released four all-star studio efforts featuring such all-star guests as Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, Steve Gadd, Eric Marienthal, Anthony Jackson, John Patitucci and James Genus. Wanting to tour his music, Weckl assembled a band with constant collaborator Oliver as well as Kennedy, Feiten, and saxophonist Brandon Fields.

More than half of the tunes on The Dave Weckl Band: Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival 2019 are culled from the band's 1998 debut album, the funky, combustible Rhythm of the Soul. That includes the taut, high-spirited funk of opener "The Zone," which sets the celebratory tone for the set as a whole, buoyed by Weckl's adroit juggling act of a groove; the horn-driven punch of "Big B Little B," highlighted by a sinuous Meek solo; the swampy down-home feel of "Mud Sauce," with Feiten digging deep for a searing, gutbucket solo; the Stevie Wonder-inspired soul of "101 Shuffle;" the sultry ballad "Song for Claire;" and the action-movie techno-funk of the blistering closing number "Access Denied."

The remainder of the repertoire reaches back to Weckl's solo work for the lyrical "Tribute," a feature for Oliver initiated by a breathtakingly elegant solo piano intro, from 1994's Hard Wired; and all the way to his 1990 solo debut Master Plan for the profoundly funky "Tower of Inspiration." 1999's Synergy yields the mid-tempo title track, while the hard-boppin' "What Happened To My Good Shoes?" flashes forward to Of the Same Mind, the 2015 release by the Dave Weckl Acoustic Band.

Finally, Weckl and Kennedy pair off for their duo improvisation on Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-a-Ning," a longtime staple of their performances together. Here the eight-minute excursion offers a prime example of the vital chemistry shared by the rhythm tandem, roaming far afield without ever losing the angular contours of the classic tune. "We've done that quite a bit," Weckl says, "but it was really special on that night."

Weckl and Oliver have both moved back to St. Louis recently, an intriguing coincidence that raises hopes for further collaboration once post-Covid life has resumed some semblance of normality. The return is also one more way in which Weckl seems to have come full circle of late; in addition to the reunion of his own band, he recently rejoined Chick Corea and John Patitucci for a tour and live album with Corea's Akoustic Band.

"Both of these bands feel like a family situation," Weckl concludes. "Even though we've all kept in touch over the years, it's always a special thing to do a project together. In a way it's like sitting in an old rocking chair - very familiar. But at the same time, it's very different based on everybody's experiences and growth since the last time we played."

Fans couldn't hope for a warmer, more exhilarating embodiment of that statement than The Dave Weckl Band: Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival 2019. The embracing family vibe beams from every note, while the thrilling spontaneity and sense of adventure can only come from decades of evolution, countless hours of shared creation, and a lifetime of musical chemistry.

Order link for The Dave Weckl Band: Live in St. Louis at the Chesterfield Jazz Festival 2019: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id/1554825269.


Featured at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More
Branded Broadway Merch

Related Articles View More Music Stories

More Hot Stories For You