Weeds success with reeds

Vancouver saxman previews new live album in Calgary

As the owner of Vancouver’s Cellar Jazz Club and the successful Cellar Live record label jazz saxman Cory Weeds is used to challenges. This week however he’s exploring something a bit different. Weeds is playing at Wine-Ohs a gig that along with performances at 15 other venues is geared to a live recording at the end of the month.

Recording live has its advantages but it’s also more complicated than a studio session. “We considered something in the studio” Weeds says “and I think when you do something in the studio you get something that’s more polished. It’s a little shinier and a little cleaner and more polished than when you do something live…. There’s just no replacing the vibe that you can create when you’re live in front of an audience the band is all charged up the band is tight the band is ready to go it’s irreplaceable.”

And so what started simply as an opportunity for Weeds’s quartet to play with renowned NYC trombonist Steve Davis has morphed into a multi-city tour a showcase for all new material and a challenging month’s end recording target.

It started with the chance to play with Davis a veteran of gigs with the likes of Benny Golson and Chick Corea. As Weeds explains the original plan was for his quartet to play with Davis followed by a promotional tour for a CD. Then things expanded beyond Weeds’s expectations. “When I put this tour together I was working with my quartet and then the concept of having Steve Davis from New York join us became a reality” says Weeds. “What ended up happening was a lot more gigs than we thought we were going to get.”

That was when inspiration struck. Weeds decided that such an extensive tour could be turned to better advantage. “We thought well it’s kind of stupid to go play the same material when we have great writers in the band — why don’t we write new material?” he says. “It’s not often that the band gets to perform that many times together.”

So Weeds’s quartet along with Davis will be playing 16 original tunes written specifically for this tour. Not only is it totally new material but those tunes will be recorded at New York City’s famed Smoke Jazz Club at the end of January. The intimate 50-seat venue has just the right energy for Weeds perfectly fitting the bill for the end of an exciting run of gigs workshops and cross-country travel.

Weeds’s vision for this new material hinges on the live experience and by the time the band hits New York they should be more than ready for it. By then all the tunes will be sharpened and honed.

The plan is to tackle all the material in the first eight or nine gigs and “barrel through as many of those as we can and make some pretty quick decisions just about what we want to keep and not keep.” It’s a whirlwind but as Weeds explains “I wouldn’t have it any other way at least in regards to this project. I mean when you spend 20 days on the road and play 21 gigs if you can’t get it together in that time then you shouldn’t be recording anyway.”