Walt Weiskopf European Quartet | Peter Bernstein & Mark Whitfield Organ Quartet

April 28, 2023 7:00 pm
Impart Centrum
Piłsudskiego 19

Tickets price: 120 PLN


7:00 p.m. Walt Weiskopf European Quartet

Walt Weiskopf – saxophone

Carl Winther – piano

Andreas Lang – bass

Anders Mogensen – drums

photo credit:  Anna Yatskevich

Waylaid by the COVID-19 pandemic, tenor saxophonist Walt Weiskopf and his European Quartet return with a vengeance on Diamonds and Other Jewels, released on AMM Records. A collection of Weiskopf originals (and one standard), it demonstrates the powerful chemistry Weiskopf shares with pianist Carl Winther, bassist Andreas Lang, and drummer Anders Mogensen—matched by their audible relish at being back together.

The album is the sixth release by the acclaimed quartet, assembled by Weiskopf in winter 2017 for a quick European tour but quickly becoming his regular working band (when not on the road with Steely Dan, Weiskopf’s other steady gig). The winter European tour became an annual tradition—although 2020’s was their last in-person summit for two years. (Their 2021 release, Introspection 2.0, was recorded remotely, with Weiskopf across the Atlantic from his bandmates.) When opportunity finally presented itself again in January 2022, they were more than ready to take it.

“Playing together again was joyful, creative, productive; and what a relief to feel a semblance of wholeness at last,” writes Weiskopf in the liner notes. “After our first few concerts, I was excited and inspired to write some new material during a train trip from Belgium to Germany. I realized we now had enough music to make a recording worthwhile in earnest.”

The title Diamonds and Other Jewels is a direct reference to actual song titles, including the scintillating waltz Black Diamond; the pensive but emotionally charged Blood Diamond; and the autumnal ballad Other Jewels. But it could easily describe the overall quality of the album’s eight tunes. Among the sparkling treasures are tributes to two of Weiskopf’s mentors: Thad Nation, a brightly colored celebration of composer, arranger, and (co-)bandleader Thad Jones, and the Arthur Johnston-Sam Coslow classic My Old Flame, dedicated to the late great alto saxophonist Andy Fusco.

These tunes are tight, most of them around six minutes. That’s a sterling testimony to how tight the band itself remains, both in terms of their personal bonds and their musical discipline. In those short timeframes, these musicians say a tremendous amount.

Walt Weiskopf was born July 30, 1959, in Augusta, Georgia to a father whose work as a medical doctor was offset by his pursuit of classical piano. Both his sons—Walt and pianist Joel—followed in his formally trained footsteps. By the time he graduated from Eastman School of Music in 1980, however, Weiskopf was firmly in the jazz camp.

He kickstarted his career in Buddy Rich’s big band, moving on a few years later to the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, then beginning to build a solo reputation. His first two albums as a leader, 1989’s Exact Science and 1990’s Mindwalking, both put him at the helm of a quartet with his brother Joel, bassist Jay Anderson, and drummer Jeff Hirshfield.

From there, Weiskopf was leader and performed with a variety of different ensembles, recording 11 albums over a 15-year span from 1992 to 2007, while maintaining a healthy freelance calendar in the commercial world of the New York studio scene, Broadway show pit orchestras, as well as the Akiyoshi band, Frank Sinatra orchestra, and his notable piers including among others, Renee Rosnes, Conrad Herwig, Jim Snidero, John Fedchock and Billy Drummond. He got the call to join Steely Dan in 2003 and has been with the jazz-rock ensemble ever since.

Weiskopf assembled his European Quartet in 2017, sprinting across Scandinavia and northern Germany for a just a week—but gaining enough steam for the saxophonist to document them on a self-titled album. But one recording couldn’t contain the band’s creative energy: European Quartet was followed by 2019’s Worldwide, 2020’s Introspection, and 2021’s Introspection 2.0, as well as the holiday EP A Little Christmas Music before laying down Diamonds and Other Jewels in January 2022.

Walt sums it up; “This is what I’ve always wanted to do – to work with like-minded musicians, to write music, share it and perform all over the world, this is my professional dream come true.”


Peter Bernstein & Mark Whitfield Organ Quartet

Peter Bernstein – guitar

Mark Whitfield – guitar

Phil Wilkinson – Hammond organ

Mourad Benhammou – drums

photo: press materials

Jazz guitarist Peter Bernstein (b. 1967, New York City) has been a part of the jazz scene in New York and abroad since 1989. During that time he has participated in over 200 recordings and numerous festival, concert and club performances with musicians from all generations. As a leader, Peter has released 12 albums and a DVD, Live at Smoke.

He got his first break while attending the New School when he met the legendary guitarist Jim Hall. Hall asked Peter to participate in his Invitational Concert as part of the 1990 JVC Jazz Festival. The event featured such guitarists as John Scofield and Pat Metheny and was released as Live at Town Hall Vol. 2 by Music Masters. Hall noted that Peter “…has paid attention to the past as well as the future. He is the most impressive guitarist I’ve heard. He plays the best of them all for swing, logic, feel and taste.” Also in 1990, Peter Bernstein was discovered by alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson and took part in the first of four recordings with him. He was a regular member of his group throughout the 1990s. “Some people just have it.” Donaldson said. “…most of the time you have to teach someone what to do, but Peter knows it all.” Peter has also enjoyed long musical associations with legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb (Cobb’s Mob), as well as organist Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart as a member of their highly acclaimed trio. The New York Times called them “the best organ trio of the last decade”. Together they recorded a dozen of records, all of which display their distinctive sound, whether exploring the depths of jazz standards or playing their original compositions. From 1995 through 1997, Peter was a member of Joshua Redman’s band and played on Redman’s Freedom in the Groove CD. He played with Diana Krall’s quartet from 1999 through 2001 and with Dr. Lonnie Smith, the legendary organist who made his debut on the George Benson Cookbook albums. He has also recorded five CDs with organist Melvin Rhyne, known for his association with Wes Montgomery. In addition, Peter has appeared in groups led by Sonny Rollins, Bobby Hutcherson, George Coleman, David Fathead Newman, Etta Jones and Nicholas Payton.

He released a solo record, Solo Guitar – Live at Smalls in 2013, the albums Let Loose w/ Gerald Clayton, Doug Weiss, and Bill Stewart in 2016 and Signs LIVE!, featuring pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, in 2017, both released on Smoke Session Records as well as the highly acclaimed organ trio with organist Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart with whom he has released numerous albums and toured world wide for almost 30 years.

photo: press materials

Mark Whitfield graduated from Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, the world’s foremost institution for the study of Jazz and modern American music in the spring of 1987. Shortly thereafter, he returned to his to his native New York to embark on a career as a Jazz Guitarist that afforded him the opportunity to collaborate with legendary artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Carmen McRae, Gladys Knight, Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Smith, Clark Terry, Shirley Horn, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Joe Williams, Stanley Turrentine and his greatest teacher and mentor George Benson.

In 1990 the New York Times dubbed Whitfield “The Best Young Guitarist in the Business”. Later that year, Warner Bros. released his debut album The Marksman. The success of his debut release led to a recording career that has produced a total of 14 solo recordings and a myriad of collaborative efforts with some of the most important artists in recent years; Sting, Steven Tyler, D’Angelo, Mary J. Blige, John Mayer, Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, Diana Krall, Christian McBride, Chris Botti, Roy Hargrove and Nicholas Payton.

Along the way the Whitfield Family Band was born, literally. In 1994 The Mark Whitfield Quartet appeared on the Thanksgiving Day broadcast of Good Morning America. This performance featured a very special guest drummer, 4 year old Mark Whitfield Jr. It was obvious even then that he was destined for greatness. Following in his father’s footsteps he attended the Berklee College of Music and graduated in 2011 with honors. He went on to study for his Masters Degree at the Manhattan School of Music while simultaneously embarking on a career as a drummer extraordinaire. He has quickly earned a reputation as one of the best young drummers in Jazz and was nominated for a Grammy in 2014 as part of the ensemble featured on Kenny Garrett’s 2013 release Pushing the World Away. Not to be outdone by his older brother, Davis Whitfield, a prodigious pianist, earned a Presidential Scholarship and graduated from the Berklee College of Music with honors in 2014.

In February of 2017 the Whitfield Family Band released its debut recording, Grace, to rave reviews. We just recorded the music we had been playing together since they were little boys. We had some help, bassist extraordinaire, Yasushi Nakamura and the co-writer and singer of the title song, our cousin Sy Smith. Grace spent almost 3 months in the top 10 on the jazz radio charts and we’re still receiving rave reviews around the world. In September 2017, Chesky Records released a live recording I made for them earlier in the year in the trio format featuring Billy Drummond on drums and Ben Allison on bass. This recording was equally well received at jazz radio and by the jazz press.

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