Hal Weary
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Hal Weary

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
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"Remembering Now: "A Rendezvous with Deja Vu""

With many great artists of the 20th century, one attribute which we always admire is the ability to evolve, a fecundity of ideas giving us different phases from an artist. This is a double-edged sword, though. The constant moving forward sometimes leaves one yearning?could not Picasso's Rose Period (1905-06) have lasted a bit longer, could Miles Davis's second great quintet (1965-1968) have given us a few more years? The upshot of course is that if fans do not appreciate a particular artistic phase, they may better enjoy the next one.

Very rarely does an artist revisit an earlier part of his or her evolution aside from perhaps a minor quote or nod as artistic flourish. With the advent of shopping online, more styles of music are now readily available to explore. Ease of global travel also offers up new ways for the curious to encounter new types of music. Despite taking full advantage of these things, I always go back to hard bop, perhaps my favorite of all the jazz genres and subgenres. Naturally enough all the main progenitors have in one way or another moved on.

The new album by pianist/composer Hal Weary (released this year on Musichal Entertainment) harkens back to the heyday of hard bop. It is not clever reproduction nor cold act of nostalgia, though. It is the fully realized work of a hard-bop aficionado using components of the music he clearly has an affection and deep understanding of while seamlessly mixing it with contemporary influences and the cadence of his own musical voice. Playing the album allows the listener the musical game of “what if,” what if one of hard bop's original stars had not jumped genres but continued on in that path, mixing the original components of what made the genre with some new possibilities while never taking too drastic a stylistic point of a departure.

One of the enjoyable things throughout the album is the interplay among the entire band. The band is a quintet featuring a front line of Kenyatta Beasley on both trumpet and flugelhorn and Stantawn Kendrick on soprano, alto tenor sax and flute. They change up which two instrumental voices they interweave together, not just on solo statements but on the songs in general, which keeps the danger of a more formulaic feel from ever occurring.

Hal Weary
Aside from one cover, the album is made up of originals penned by Hal. “Outback Blues” begins with a bass, drum and piano pulse over which sax and trumpet play the melody first in unison then with the sax playing a sort of descending riff. The trumpet is then left to solo over a locked down groove of walking bass and high-hats. One of the things I enjoyed about Kanyatta's playing is that, while he is very good, there is never the sacrifice of emotion for technique or perfection. There is the warm human aspect to be found in both tone and notes played. When the saxophone enters to solo, it is over the same accompaniment. There is a well-fitted logic to both horns in what they play and how it fits into the song, achieving a sense of organic tension, avoiding any dead space or distraction.
While comping throughout the song and during his solo, Hal's playing is like a mini history of jazz piano from the 1960s. One senses his personal musical heroes and how he used them to fuel his own distinctive muse. From song to song he subtly changes the cadence of the piano, something even the more virtuosic modern pianists do not necessarily always bother to do. The song ends as it began, a perfect sonic symmetry.

The one cover, “Tenderly,” has a beautiful, meditative start, conjuring up images of gentle beauty, something in nature, a sunrise or rain as observed through a window. Once the rest of the band joins in, the song is made even more enjoyable by a showing of taste; there is no overly clever deconstruction of the song, just the musicians' voices singing in a way familiar yet all their own. This is all that we can ask of any cover.

“Hangin' with Horace” is a nod to artistic forefather Horace Silver. It is constructed similarly to one of his pieces and includes a melodic motif which shows how natural it is for the band to play in this idiom. For this piece Jerome Jennings's drums have subtle Latin/samba feel which propels the song along. Rather than take the expected path, the band when playing in ensemble as well as solo eschews top flight speed and discordance, which gives the song an air of tight but loose tension. There is a full sound but also a lightness. This song also contains one of my favorite solo statements on the album from Hal. It begins with clear clarion-like single-note runs and several minor sanctified elements which have always been so much a part of hard bop's sonic make up. It shows too that one can find inspiration from the greats while remaining his own man.

Hal took great effort to find a studio to record in that used some analog equipment. The payoff for the listener is the warm ambience which further bolsters top-notch playing and gives a clean but live feel. The warm aspect of the recording also allows for Gregory William's bass to be heard without any distraction or need of pyrotechnics. His tone has the aural equivalent of the light bouncing off the burnished wood of his bass when on stage. There is none of that digital coldness which so often is a source of an album's loss of tension and a factor in impeding enjoyment of repeated listening to an album.

The album is a little under an hour long with the sound of a classic 60s era offering. There are no liner notes but also no weak links in the band. This album offers a way to see what is possible when building off of artistic antecedents without radical departure or alteration, yet remaining just as enjoyable.

More information: www.halweary.com - Mxwell Chandler ~ jazzpolice.com

"Hal Weary: "A Rendezvous with Deja Vu""

Like Ray Charles, Horace Silver, Richard Tee, James Williams and Cyrus Chestnut, Hal Weary has the gospel sound in his piano playing and writing. This is most apparent on "Hangin' with Horace," one of his six compositions on the self-produced "A Rendezvous with Déjà Vu." "Hangin' with Horace" suggests several of Silver's funky, sanctified tunes from the '60s, and there are bold, hard bop solos by trumpeter Kenyatta Beasley and saxophonist and flutist Stantawn Kendrick (who plays alto here). Weary's solo exhibits a light touch, funky harmonies and a take-your-time exposition of firm ideas -- the work of a secure, tasteful pianist.

"Tenderly," a technique-driven but still tasteful piano feature and the only standard on the album, reveals more of Weary's keyboard influences: Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal and Wynton Kelly. The title track and "One for Big Bro" are Latin tunes that, like "Hangin' with Horace," employ Weary's quintet and continue the '60s rendezvous. Bassist Gregory Williams and drummer Jerome Jennings are Weary's in-the-pocket rhythm-section mates.

While the "Déjà Vu" part of the title of this album holds true in most places, there's a generational reinterpretation and update along the way among the players. It's a pleasing juxtaposition.

Owen Cordle - Owen Cordle ~ NewsObserver

""A Rendezvous with Deja Vu""

Hal Weary is a pianist who is making his recording debut on this CD. His early roots are in gospel music, he earned degrees from San Jose State University and William Paterson University, and he has developed a well-rounded modern mainstream style of his own that is already quite mature and personal.

On A Rendezvous With Deja Vu, there are moments where Weary sounds a bit like Errol Garner (part of “Tenderly”), Sir Roland Hanna, Oscar Peterson and Horace Silver (purposely on “Hangin' With Horace”) but he also displays his own voice. Also quite excellent are Stantawn Kendrick on alto, tenor, soprano and flute, trumpeter Kenyatta Beasley (influenced by Lee Morgan), bassist Gregory Williams and drummer Jerome Jennings.

The music overall is modern hard bop with the highlights including the well-conceived Horace Silver tribute “Hangin' With Horace,” a double time “Tenderly,” a tribute to James Williams (“I Remember James”), and “One For Big Bro” which begins with a heartfelt poem recited by Hal Weary to his late brother before it becomes an original soulful instrumental.

A Rendezvous With Deja Vu is highly recommended and available from www.halweary.com.

Scott Yanow

- Scott Yanow L.A. Jazz Scene - All About Jazz - Jazztimes Magazine

"Hal Weary: The Real Deal"

Hal Weary is the real deal. A Jazz man that's dependable as daybreak & as surprising as a sun-shower. This is music to heal whatever ails you & make you smile inside. I think you better get some!!!
Bright Moments,
Avotcja (pronounced Avacha)
KPOO & KPFA-FM San Francisco, CA - Avotcja (pronounced Avacha) KPOO & KPFA-FM

"Hal Weary: "A Rendezvous with Deja Vu""

There’s more than a little influence of Horace Silver on this hard-bop project. This is a good thing, as rarely can you gone with the funky sort of swing that graced the best of Silver’s projects. All right, all of his projects. Weary, a New York-based pianist, has strong support from trumpeter Kenyatta Beasley, saxophonist Stantawn Kendrick, bassist Gregory Williams and drummer Jerome Jennings. All of the playing is stellar. My favorites: “Hangin’ with Horace” and “Outback Blues.” The one non-original is Weary’s Garnerish take on “Tenderly,” which he plays solo for the first half before the full quintet joins in. Weary slips back into solo mode for the coda of this great arrangement.
- Ken Franckling


"A Rendezvous with Deja Vu" by Hal Weary



Hal Weary is an American pianist and composer who was immersed in a musical family, which cultivated his passion for music. He began formal lessons at the age of 10, but gained his earliest professional experience playing gospel in his hometown at the age of 5. Owen Cordle of the New York NewsObserver writes, “Like Ray Charles, Horace Silver, Richard Tee, James Williams and Cyrus Chestnut, Hal Weary has the gospel sound in his piano playing and writing.”
Currently, Weary is performing with world-class musicians from around the globe. Possessing a strong foundation in stride, bebop, hard-bop, post-bop he has also explored Afro-Cuban rhythms, World music, and other directions with various ensembles.
Hal Weary brings a distinctly artistic touch to his jazz compositions and piano playing. His feathery keyboard touch is coupled with a lot of power and passion, a complete understanding of the blues and improvisation. Not content at any time to rest on his laurels, Weary has been involved in quite a few important musical projects, and his musical curiosity has never dimmed. Despite his peripatetic activities all around the musical map, his piano style is ever evolving into tougher, even-more-complex forms.
Hal Weary’s quintet has been in high demand since the release of his debut album “A Rendezvous with Déjà vu.” Maxwell Chandler of Jazz Police.com writes, “The new album by pianist/composer Hal Weary (released this year on Musichal Entertainment) is the fully realized work of a hard-bop aficionado using components of the music he clearly has an affection and deep understanding of while seamlessly mixing it with contemporary influences and the cadence of his own musical voice.” Owen Cordle of the NewsOberserver writes, “Weary exhibits a light touch, funky harmonies and a take-your-time exposition of firm ideas - the work of a secure, tasteful pianist. Hal Weary’s quintet is comprised of some of the hottest musicians currently on the New York Jazz scene that display a “take no prisoners” approach everytime they take the stage.