Brassum | Dan Clucas | Michael Vlatkovich | Mark Weaver | Harris Eisenstadt | Live | pfmentum

Here we have jazzy improvisation at top level but with strong emphasis on some melodic lines. And that is what distinguishes Brassum from many others improvisers or spontaneous musicians. Here we have exploration of lines done with trombones and tubas and cornets with a certain jazz feeling but keeping main ideas through all the compositions. This is exploration of new sounds with a lot of coherence and developing new ideas but always keeping the main structures in mind that is what gives a pure jazz feeling. — musicextreme Oct 2006 Continue reading

Protuberance | Treated and Released | Zerx Records 019

Mark Weaver’s tuba roots the sound with some elegance for such a seemingly awkward instrument, meshing surprisingly well with the other players. Drummer Dave Wayne’s playing is engagingly funky, though with an ear tuned for the sudden off-beat investigation of his kit á là Joey Baron – he takes a fine solo on the self-penned “T. W.” too. Yet, despite the fact that Weaver’s written most of the tunes, and that his tuba is occasionally let loose (showing considerable agility on “Deflections” and some grace on “Soon Enough”), the lead sound here is undoubtedly Paul Pulaski’s guitar. He’s a player of some ability, with a sound I couldn’t really pin down – at times he approaches Bill Frisell’s territory (volume swells, and bent chords), though is perhaps closest to a trickier Marc Ribot – he’s got a slightly sharper, clanging, bluesier tone than most jazz players, which contrasts well with the broad sound of the tuba. The only problem here is that the lack of variation in sound eventually begins to show. No matter how good the players and the tunes are – and they are good – this combination played and recorded “straight” is ultimately a little limiting. Yet I can still heartily recommend this CD to fans of quirky, funky leftfield jazz. Even despite that name. —Dan Hill Continue reading

Radius | Witch of Agnesi | Plutonium Records

One of the exhilarating aspects of improvisation is that it occasionally gives musicians from divergent locations the freedom to get together and create instant compositions that sound as if they come from a working group. This is one of those instances. Recorded in concert at the aptly-named Outpost Performance Space in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the disc combines the talents of local tuba explorer Mark Weaver with that of discriminating drummer Dave Wayne of nearby Santa Fe, plus multi-reedman Alan Lechusza from San Diego, California and young bass master Damon Smith of California’s Bay area.–Ken Waxman, Toronto, June 3, 2002 Continue reading

Patti Littlefield | Mark Weaver | Resonance | Plutonium Records

Resonance certainly stands out from the glut of singer sessions. First off there’s the instrumentation: vocalist Patti Littlefield and tuba player Mark Weaver for the most part, though Weaver mixes in some didgeridoo. Then there’s the unusual choice of tunes ranging from adventurous originals to standards with some Blues and Country mixed in. But what most sets this apart is the quality of the work. Littlefield is a self-assured vocalist who brings the voice of each song to life. She establishes this from the start. She endows “You’re My Thrill” with a dangerous, sensual edge and then takes it further by interpolating a stanza of erotic poetry in the middle. Each song is a dramatic set piece. She gives the familiar tunes, such as “Caravan,” new twists, yet remains true to their emotional cores. Littlefield carries this off without strain. She’s so natural the listeners will be ready to run off with her when they hear “Small Day Tomorrow,” and sympathize with her psychological woes on her original, “Perfect Blues.” The spare accompaniment of Weaver’s horn only heightens the drama. He provides a resonant grounding. And his didgeridoo playing is more than the usual novelty. It adds an exotic touch that complements the New Age lyrics of “Footprints” and conjures an eerie atmosphere that helps revive “House of the Rising Sun” after so many raucous Blues-Rock renditions. The duo ends with a playful and lightly dancing “Jitterbug Waltz” that puts the exclamation point on this noteworthy session. —David Dupont (Cadence Magazine Oct 2009, p.219) Continue reading

AMH Trio | Alan Lechusza | Mark Weaver | Harris Eisenstadt | Live at Field & Frame | Plutonium Records

Releases like “live at the Field & Frame” serve notice that free improvisation and outside jazz (…or whatever you want to call it) are alive and well outside of NYC, Chicago and San Francisco. Tuba-ist Mark Weaver encountered San Diego-based multi-woodwind player Alan Lechusza while playing in Portland Oregon, in groups led by trumpeter Rob Blakeslee and trombonist Michael Vlatkovich. To quote Weaver’s own liner note, he and Lechusza “immediately felt an affinity” for each others’ playing, and planned their own project. — Dave Wayne Continue reading

Biggi Vinkeloe | Mark Weaver | Damon Smith | Desert Sweets | Plutonium Records

This is a band worthy of attention. They tap into the rich improvising tradition of exploration and offer superior sonic results. There are 22 tracks on this CD, all with examples of outstanding technical virtuosity and dazzling musical moments. Anyone familiar with numerology knows that 22 is a special number. It is one of the master numbers (along with 11) that represent the master cosmic vibrations in the universe, and signify a highly enlightened experience beyond the range of human understanding. The listening experience offered here is certainly one that stretches beyond our previous improvising understandings as listeners. This is a sonic journey that travels through some fascinating and beautiful new improvised terrain and offers a totally unique and rewarding listening experience. Enjoy the ride. —Adam Lane, new york/oakland, feburary 2002 Continue reading

Mark Weaver’s Brassum | Warning Lights | Plutonium Records

Given its name which reflects its brass-heavy instrumentation, you’d expect Mark Weaver’s Brassum to be a celebration of the brass band tradition with evocations of marching bands… But with leader and tubaist Mark Weaver taking on the role of the string bass, this band really is a free Bop ensemble with catchy, intriguing tunes setting up edgy blowing. Little Weaver plays wouldn’t fall easily under the fingers of an adept bassist. That’s not to say that his big brass bass doesn’t add a dominant color to the date. The tuba’s expansive sound envelops the ensemble with a golden fog. Even when vamping, Weaver’s lines (and this applies as well to the undisputed master of this school of tuba, Bob Stewart) resonate with the other horns in the way a string bass does not. Weaver and Eisenstadt prove to be a playful rhythm section. Clucas works well within the context of Weaver’s compositions. Vlatkovich further lifts the session with his robust, ripping trombone lines. …this music, through crafty writing and daring playing, achieves a sound larger than you’d assume from the seemingly meager complement of instruments. —David Dupont (Cadence magazine vol.30, No.6, June 2004, p.46-47) Continue reading