Did you ever wonder what your favorite musicians are listening to, or the recordings that influenced them? “Take Five” is a look at the music that inspires and excites them. It’s difficult to choose ONLY five recordings!

Pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader James Weidman, a native of Youngstown, OH learned jazz as a child from his musician father. He played organ with his father’s band as a teenager. He continued performing during his studies at Youngstown State University, graduating cum lade with a degree in Classical Piano and Music Education. His resume encompasses collaborations with Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Bobby Hutcherson, Archie Shepp, Bobby Watson, Jay Hoggard, Joe Lovano, and Esperanza Spaulding. Weidman was also a member of the MBase Collective with contemporaries Steve Coleman, Cassandra Wilson, Greg Osby, and Robin Eubanks. In addition to Lincoln and Wilson, Weidman has accompanied vocalists Gloria Lynne, and Dakota Staton, and was Music Director for Kevin Mahogany and Ruth Naomi Floyd. Weidman is an Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano and African American Studies at the University of Georgia.

His latest recording is “Sonic Realities” featuring Harvie S, bass, and Alvester Garnett, drums.

“Here are five selections that are both influential and are considered favorites by Moi. These are sample selections out of the many albums and tracks that have rocked my boat and opened my ears over the years.”

“Ugetsu Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers at Birdland” (Original Jazz Classics)
The compositions and the horn arrangements on “Ugetsu” made an impression on me. Wayne Shorter is one of my favorite composers. This iteration of these stellar musicians is my favorite messenger group.

“Study in Brown,” Clifford Brown and Max Roach (EmArcy)
“Study in Brown” was a favorite of mine during high school, when at the time the most jazz I played was things like “Alligator Boogaloo” on organ gigs.

The precise and beautiful solos by Clifford and Harold Land made an early impression on me. Great catchy tunes. I also studied how they played the “Cherokee” tempo-wise which served me well (I think), when I sat in with Max Roach when he came to Youngstown State while I was a student.

“Facing You,” Keith Jarrett (ECM)
“Facing You” was an inspiration. I especially loved how Keith incorporated folk rock elements in these vignettes which at the time of the release was something quite new.

Duke Ellington & John Coltrane (Impulse!)
Duke Ellington and Trane, a definite desert island album. Two of our greatest visionary artists, together creating other worldly music.

Thelonious Monk, Live in Paris, 1964 (Frances Concert)
Live in Paris – Monk. I discovered this recently. Monk sounds so amazing- the band swings so beautifully!

James Weidman

Discography – jamesweidman.com/music

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