Rule of Thirds
Release Date: April 28, 2023
Label: Outside In Music
Described as a saxophonist and composer with “sheer creative firepower,” (The Jazz Word) with music that is “full of peaks, valleys, unexpected twists and turns, and exceptional solos, with solid group interactions,” (All About Jazz) Alex Weitz is a musician whose prowess and fount of originality speaks for itself.
After pandemic-induced career adjustments and the profoundly-felt loss of his father, Weitz began to sketch the rich musical tales of Rule of Thirds as a means of overcoming such challenges. With renewed drive and focus, this release marks the forging of new beginnings across eight original compositions and one arrangement, a stalwart showcase of deeply-interactive creativity. Weitz navigates with excitement alongside his entrusted quartet: pianist Tal Cohen, bassist Ben Tiberio and drummer Michael Piolet. Some ten years ago, long before moving to New York from Miami, the four began playing together. A luminous, star-studded roster of guest artists, including pianist Emmet Cohen, drummer Ari Hoenig, trumpeter Marcus Printup and guitarist Yotam Silberstein, seamlessly join this dance.
New sonic platforms with devotion to the past appear on Rule of Thirds, where Weitz draws from three styles of music that resonate with him the most as both a listener and composer: straight-ahead jazz, classical music and rock-influenced odd meter music. The result of this combination is a program played with stellar fellowship and an elegant blend of musical traditions.
The album’s title is nuanced with meaning. On the surface, Rule of Thirds expresses that this is Weitz’s third album as a bandleader. It’s also a synthesis of the three aforementioned genres and a product of Weitz’s new musical collaborations in New York, the third city he has played in professionally. Thematically, however, this title is a continuation of the visually-focused language Weitz established through his first two recordings and a nod to his work during the pandemic as a videographer. Chroma, Weitz’s debut, is a word that relates to the color spectrum of an image while its follow up, Luma, is a term that expresses an image’s brightness. Weitz enhances the two preceding concepts with a third component of photography, “The Rule of Thirds”, a known visual statute to place the subject of an image off-center and within a third of the frame for the purposes of composition and creativity. Musically, Rule of Thirds achieves this appealing distinction.
The album opens with “The Hive,” a hard-driving, straight-ahead swing fest named after Weitz’s favorite vegan restaurant in Miami. Featuring guest appearances by Emmet Cohen and Ari Hoenig and compositional twists inspired by Joe Henderson, this track keeps listeners invested as it engages in the timeless art of the blues. This is followed by “Nocturne in C Sharp Minor,” a pensive, dark and winding melody that combines Weitz’s clean tenor sound with the beautifully languid guitar tone of Yotam Silberstein. Classically influenced, the piece transitions from its moody, provocative opening to an intense finale, and features solos by Silberstein and pianist Tal Cohen. From this point, “Rude Awakening” turns a corner, utilizing odd meter phrasing on a more brightly-hued offering. Here, Weitz embraces a stylistic and serpentine melodic stature, leading his rhythm section into proportionately rich excursions. “Convent Court” is a swinging piece dedicated to Weitz’s favorite street in Harlem, and is the first composition he wrote after arriving in New York. Featuring Emmet Cohen and Marcus Printup, this selection is a straight-ahead joy with a few unexpected twists and turns. His sole arrangement, “Love for Sale”, seasons the Cole Porter original with dynamic curvature, wondrous rhythmic interplay and deft statements from Weitz at the helm. The album concludes with more classical inspiration on “Sonata for Fred,” a tribute to Weitz’s late father and his love for classical music. A gripping duet between Cohen and Weitz sweeps its way across seas of sensitive recollection.
With Rule of Thirds, Weitz pours emotion and distinct personality into each note, further establishing his rich melodicism and superlative composing. A stunningly-crafted addition to the oeuvre of contemporary jazz, Rule of Thirds is an abundant new beginning for the comprehensive artist, one marked by wisdom, dynamic group synergy and playful interaction.
More about Alex Weitz
Originally from Arizona, Alex Weitz was a member of the award winning Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band. Alex went on to complete both his undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Miami Frost School of Music.
Alex has performed and headlined at esteemed venues and jazz festivals around the world including the Red Sea Jazz Festival, Tucson Jazz Festival, Dizzy’s Club, The Nash, Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Birdland, and the South Beach Jazz Festival.
In 2019, he won second place in the Michael Brecker International Saxophone Competition held in Eilat, Israel. In 2019 as well as 2021 he was the recipient of an ASCAP Herb Alpert Composer Award. In 2021, he won the “Pathways to Jazz” grant from Boulder County Arts which helped fund his upcoming album.
DEE DEE McNEIL
"Right out the gate, these musicians race into my listening space full speed ahead, with Alex Weitz leading the way on tenor saxophone." Read the full review here.
"An emotionally rich and dynamic collaboration that hones in on straight ahead jazz, classical music and rock spirited, odd meter ideas, Weitz and company make the most of these timeless and exciting 9 tracks." Read the full review here.