We long ago established in this column that black people are hipper than other people, particularly if they are American, over 40 and don't listen to crappy hip-hop (although some under-40 black people associated with hip-hop to one degree or another can be very hip as well; witness, say, Snoop, "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather and Dave Chappelle).
Too, we long ago established in this column that smooth jazz or acid jazz or crossover jazz or contemporary jazz or whatever they call it this week is not really jazz at all, and is, in fact, often very nearly as crappy as crappy hip-hop, and in worst-case scenarios can indeed be adjudged as even crappier.
And so I was stunned – stunned! – when one evening not long ago, I spent an evening at Humphrey's Backstage Lounge and found it crammed to sardine can proportions with exotically hip black people, many of whom appeared to be well over 40 and smelled of pricey perfumes and colognes and sported marvelously posh-looking threads in rainbows of gorgeously luminescent pastel colors and brushed beaver retro-Stetsons to render the hipper-than-everyone-else-on-the-planet Delroy Lindo green with envy.
Stun Factor No. 1: This awe-inspiring assemblage of hipster elite had descended upon Humphrey's in support of a self-advertised smooth/acid/contemporary/crossover jazz reedman, a sullen-looking but extraordinarily handsome youth named Jason Weber, who is white, well under 40 and wearing a very casual, perhaps Target-purchased wardrobe with the top shirt buttons undone and surfer-dude beads around his neck.
Stun Factor No. 2: Despite the fact that Weber looked like someone who might possibly hang around trendy L.A. clubs listening to crappy hip-hop in the company of Colin Farrell and Paris Hilton, when I closed my eyes I might have sworn it was 1970 and I was listening to Quincy Jones up on the bandstand, conducting an all-star combo featuring Cannonball Adderly, Eddie Harris, Herbie Mann, Pepper Adams and Herbie Hancock. There was nothing smooth or contemporary or crossover emanating from that stage, and if it was acid, it was a damned good trip; a flight of fantastic, first-class, full-fashion funk; I'd even go so far as to frame the fuss as "far out." The kid can write, the kid can blow, and he can blow soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, flute and keys (although tenor is his main ax).
If ya don't believe me, check him out with your own optic organs: Weber's new CD, "Can U Feel Me Now," is available at his Web site and his entirely fly combo makes a return engagement at Humphrey's Sunday night, a concert you ought to attend even if you're not a cool, middle-aged black person.
Meanwhile, I placed a call to Weber's Lake Elsinore home to ask him two questions:
Q: Why do you call your music "smooth jazz" when it's really better than that implies?
A: "I hate labels and I agree that a lot of smooth jazz in insincere and unmusical, but you have to call yourself something for marketing purposes to get people to pay attention."
Q: Why do all these cool, middle-aged black people in fancy threads love you so much?
A: "I don't know."
January 19, 2006
“Buddy's raging case of black-envy flares up again” - Feature Article
In Too Deep - 2013New 2013 release from saxophonist Jason Weber. This is the long awaited baritone sax feature album from this talented artist. Aggressive, funky & a unique approach to this under-utilized member of the saxophone family! “In… Read More +
1st Avenue Reunion - 2012New 2012 Release from guitarist Mike DeRose & saxophonist Jason Weber. Mike & Jason would like to thank their wives, famiies & everyone who has supported them & their music over the years. … Read More +
Bringin' It - 2011New 2011 Release from guitarist Michael Rosati & saxophonist Jason Weber. Soul / Contemporary Jazz featuring sax & guitar as well as keyboardist Brad Cole, drummer Steve Ferrone & bassists Nathan Brown, Darryl Williams & Chris… Read More +
Five - 2009"Five" is Jason Weber's latest & most polished CD offering to date! This album, once again, features legendary drummer Steve Ferrone, in addition to drummer Duncan Moore, guitarist Mike DeRose, bassists Nathan Brown & Chris Kringel & keyboardists Michael Leroy… Read More +
Can U Feel Me Now? - 2005"Can U Feel Me Now?" is Jason Weber's 5th CD release. Weber's most powerful work to date, this album features the talents of legendary drummer Steve Ferrone (Average White Band, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, etc.), keyboardist Morris… Read More +
Something Blue - 2002Jason Weber has been playing sax for over twenty years. After earning a Bachelor's degree in music performance from the University of Wisconsin in 1994, Weber led an award-winning contemporary jazz group in southeastern Wisconsin. Weber's first solo CD, '1st… Read More +
Leap of Faith - 1999"Leap of Faith", released in 1999, is Jason Weber's second CD release of all original material. The album features Jason on soprano, alto & tenor saxophones, flute, vocals, keyboards & instrument programming as well as Mike DeRose & Scott Carter… Read More +
Snow - 1998A holiday CD to put you in the festive holiday spirit at the right time of year! For more information or to purchase this CD, please contact Jason directly. Mike DeRose - Guitar on track 8 Jason Weber - Tenor… Read More +
1st Avenue - 1996Jason Weber has been playing sax for over twenty years. After earning a Bachelor's degree in music performance from the University of Wisconsin in 1994, he led an award-winning contemporary jazz group in southeastern Wisconsin. The CD featured here is… Read More +