Pianist/Composer/Arranger Michael Weiss’s Long Soul Journey to Vinyl

Suave, swinging and exuberant, Michael Weiss’s self-produced Soul Journey sounds something like a big band playing on a Blue Note Records date, but it’s really a small ensemble making like a big one thanks to Weiss’s deft, harmonically-rich, rhythmically neck-snapping arrangements and free-spirited yet tightly drawn, well-meshed performances by the three man veteran horn section of saxophonist Steve Wilson, trumpet and flugelhorn player Ryan Kisor and trombonist Steve Davis.

The rhythm section of Weiss on piano and Fender Rhodes, Joe Farnsworth on drums, Paul Gill on bass and percussionist Daniel Sadownick, jet-propel the slamming set of high-energy Weiss originals that, don’t worry, leave plenty of room for improvisation within the tight construction.

Recorded back in 2000 by legendary, now semi-retired engineer Joe Ferla at famed Avatar Studios and mixed to ½” analog tape, the album was originally issued on CD-only in 2003. The tape then sat carefully stored until very recently when Bernie Grundman used it to master this double 33 1/3 set pressed at QRP with plating by Gary Salstrom, packaged in Stoughton-printed jackets.

So, you have “A team” players performing a set of muscular, definitely “non-cerebral” forward-looking, mind and body engaging tunes superbly recorded, mixed and mastered by an engineer/mixer and mastering engineer “A team” as well. What could go wrong? Nothing.

Twenty years in the can has not dated this outing. If anything, it’s welcome relief from some of today’s “above the neck” mathematical exercises.

Soul Journey is a never facile always tasteful set that will engage both jazz sophisticates and “newbies” and the sound, not “audiophile” in the “group playing in a room”, sense, but rather where there’s unrestricted dynamic slam, along with generous harmonic and textural presentation should please all ears.

The biggest problem with this release, available only through Weiss’s website is that it’s limited to 500 copies, 250 of which are numbered (Mr. Weiss is not adverse to pressing more if the demand is there). Special order reel-to-reel sets are available, transferred by Bernie Grundman Mastering from the original tapes onto a set of two 10.5” 2500’ reels at 15 IPS.

With Mr. Weiss’s permission here’s the opening track “Optimism”


Scholargypsy's picture

Michael, I have Soul Journey album #70, and your review is spot on--great music and fantastic sound! Indeed, this one will frequently be on my turntable.

Roy Martin's picture

Just got the record yesterday as part of the Kickstarter campaign. It's terrific in the way MF describes above. But when I saw the "recorded in 2000" note on the back cover I thought it was an unfortunate typo and was halfway through an email to Mr. Weiss to inform him of this error when I stopped just to be careful. A quick search on Analog Planet brought up Michael F's initial posting and sure enough, this was indeed recorded twenty years ago. So it's not "album of the year" but it might very well be "reissue of the year."

fetuso's picture

I listened to my copy last night. Great songs, great sound, dead quiet vinyl. My only critique is that I wish the horns had more bite and energy. They're a bit soft for me, but I'm sure that's inherent in the original recording. In that sense i don't think it sounds like a blue note production, but that's a good thing. I have enough BN's. This will be a staple in my rotation.

vinylrules's picture

And really loved it. Exactly as described by Mr. Fremer. A top notch production through and though!

richiep's picture

I ordered this from Michael's website, by mistake it was the non-numbered version and I wanted the numbered release. Michael was so responsive and without reservations changed it even incurring extra cost and shipped immediately. After giving it the first listen, I found myself repeating it because the music and recording was first rate, it would be great if everyone took the same care in their reproduction of the music they write and perform since it lasts forever! The vinyl is dead quiet and his sound enters your musical feelings. More please!

kruhlin's picture

Once again Mr Fremer, thank you for introducing me to some great music I would not have found had you not mentioned Michael Weiss's Kickstarter campaign. What a wonderfully fresh album, sonically superb and flawlessly pressed album.

michaelweiss's picture

Thanks Michael for the wonderful review and thanks to everyone else here for your kind words. Numbered and unnumbered copies are available for purchase here: http://www.michaelweiss.info/recordings.htm

michaelweiss's picture

Inauguration Flash Sale: For a limited time, 10% off numbered copies.