Up a Step

featuring Cory Weeds, tenor saxophone / Oliver Gannon, guitar / Mike LeDonne, Hammond B3 organ / Jesse Cahill, drums

Last fall, the Vancouver, B.C.-based tenor saxophonist Cory Weeds (b.1973) began planning this CD–his fifth as a leader. “Over a number of years,” says Weeds, “I’ve gotten to know (the New York-based pianist and organist) Mike LeDonne (b.1956) as a friend,” he explains, “and we’ve played together a lot. I’ve booked him at my jazz club in Vancouver (Weeds, of course, owns The Cellar there) several times. And I recorded my first CD as a leader (2008′s BIG WEEDS, Cellar Live CLO11308) with him (and Peter Bernstein and Joe Farnsworth). So I decided to bring him to The Cellar for two nights, put together a little tour for right after that–two nights in Bellingham (Washington), two in Seattle, and two in Edmonton–and the last night of the tour, do a live record.”
But, from there, Weeds was in the weeds. “I needed an original concept for the album,” he says. “Then I talked to Mike (LeDonne), and he suggested doing an album of Hank Mobley tunes. And I thought that was a fantastic idea, but I wanted to avoid things like ‘This I Dig of You,’ which has been recorded a lot…So I started looking up what Hank had written…”Weeds immediately zeroed in on one of his favorite Mobley songs: “A Baptist Beat,” from Mobley’s 1960 album ROLL CALL. And, LeDonne singled out five others: “A Dab Of This And That” and “Bossa For Baby” from Mobley’s 1967 date FAR AWAY LANDS; “Up A Step,” from Mobley’s 1963 LP NO ROOM FOR SQUARES; “Up, Over And Out” from the 1968 Mobley album REACH OUT; and “Straight No Filter,” from Mobley’s LP of the same name (recorded in 1963, but unreleased until 1985). Then, the two agreed on a Weeds choice, the Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz ballad “I See Your Face Before Me,” from the 1937 Broadway show BETWEEN THE DEVIL–recorded by Mobley on his 1965 album DIPPIN’, as well as by John Coltrane, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Hartman and Miles Davis–and a blues, LeDonne’s own “Perfectly Hank.” And, the organist went to work writing arrangements.