|Recording information: Systems Two Studios, Brooklyn, New York (10/15/2004).
Walt Weiskopf and Andy Fusco make a very compatible and tightly-knit two saxophone front-line. On "Tea for Two" they lead a finely tuned group though a well-balanced 56 minute program of five jazz standards and four Weiskopf originals (one co-written with Fusco). Walt and Andy have been musical soul-mates since their days in the Buddy Rich band in the early '80's. (You can see them together on the "Buddy Rich at the Montreal Jazz Festival" DVD). Fusco is a fine hard-bop altoist who plays slippery and sometimes unpredictable solos. Weiskopf has developed into a major modern tenor soloist with a personal sound. His improvisations on this CD are consistently ear-catching and rewarding.
The music here might be termed modern hard-bop, but it never becomes too difficult or involved for the listener to follow. Indeed, there is a brightness to this recording in both the tunes and the recording quality which is quite appealing. There is plenty of variety, as well. The standard "Tea for Two" opens the CD with a very tricky unison "head" which transforms this older tune into something out of the ordinary. Up-tempo burners, like "Budo"; Keith Jarrett's "Shades of Jazz"; and the closing "Unison" open up for some hard-swinging solos. "So In Love" is enhanced by several changes in the underlying rhythmic pattern. Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks" is a beautifully expressed ballad which nicely captures the close musical connection of the reed men. Weiskopf's originals, "Adios", "Sweet Melissa", and "Waltz for Judy" are just as interesting as the standards.
The rhythm section (Joel Weiskopf, Paul Gill, and Billy Drummond) is consistently excellent, and swings at every tempo with no feeling of restriction. Everything here flows with the forward motion which is characteristc of the best jazz. Joel Weiskopf is an especially fine piano soloist.
According to the liner notes, Walt Weiskopf approached this recording with a greater sense of anxiety than usual. None of that comes through on that recording, though. "Tea for Two" is a very uplifting and enjoyable recording. Highly recommended.