CD Reviews
Drummer Cafe 20th Anniversary
  • Subscribe
Pin it

REVIEW

As you may have guessed by the title, or perhaps not, all of the tracks on Harald Weinkum's ÜberThree are in 3/4 time. The third album for the Austrian bassist, Harald Weinkum began working on this CD project back in 2004 with guitarist Mike Stern recording on three of the songs. Recording was finished in 2012 and the album released in 2013.

Weinkum plays bass on all 12 tracks on ÜberThree, but the rest of the band is filled out with special guest musicians that would typically be found on the Who's Who list of today's top American jazz-fusion musicians. Drummers on the project include Dave Weckl, Thomas Lang, Kirk Covington, Joe LaBabera and Austro-American, Bernard Galane.

The opening track, "Morgenstern", is German for 'morning star' as well as a natural reference to Mike Stern who is featured on guitar. All of the melodic themes (and opening bass riff) are 12-tone melodies composed by Weinkum. Stern and saxonphonist Andy Suzuki are tight as they play the head of the tune in unison. They each take turns soloing over the form. Bernard Galane is on drums; does a fine job propelling the music forward with plenty of displacement and interacting with the soloists.

"Teresa" is a jazz-waltz composition written by the late Jaco Pastorius. Named after his last love before his death, Jaco never really had a chance to record the tune properly. On this track, which opens with a rehearsal recording of Jaco singing the melody to his fellow musicians, features some tasty brush and stick work by Kirk Covington on drums.

"Asturias", by Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz, was originally written for piano. Harald Weinkum does a wonderful job, showing the listener what he's got, by playing this on electric bass.

"Miller 64", another Weinkum composition, pays hommage to legendary bassist, Marcus Miller. Melodic duties largely fall to Sebastian Grimus on bass clarinet — doubled by Weinkum on his '77 Fender Jazz bass. In 3/4 (or, because of the melodic phrase, you could think of this in 6/4) it features Thomas Lang on drums with some snappy tom fills and double kick licks. Caleb Michel is playing percussion.

"Amazing Grace" features Harald Weinkum on solo bass, accompanied by Greek pianist, Ioannis Goudelis, and Scottish bagpiper, Duncan Knight. Weinkum points out in the liner-notes that there were no bass overdubs on this tune.

Track six, "Got A Match", is a Chick Corea composition originally performed by Chick Corea Elektric Band and features two of the groups members, Dave Weckl (drums), Frank Gambale (guitar). What a treat! The track actually opens with a bit of another Elektric Band classic, "Sidewalk", which is in 3/4. "Got A Match" was originally performed in 4/4, so hearing it in 3/4 with two Corea band members, even though the approach is similar, was extremely entertaining.

"12 Stern" is another reference to Mike Stern who is featured on guitar. The composition is a jazz waltz (ala Bill Evans) using only 12-tone melodies with conventional harmonies. Joe LaBarbera is playing drums, who incidentally played with Bill Evans for two years; how fitting is that.

"The Chicken" is a Pee Wee Ellis tune; originally in 4/4 and made popular by Jaco Pastorius. This arrangement, in 3/4 meter and just as funky as the original, actually features Pee Wee Ellis on sax and Fred Wesley on trombone!

"Herrgott" may well be one of the strongest tunes on the CD. The classical Viennese tune, written in 1934, was originally titled "wenn der herrgott net will" ... which translates "If it's not in God's plan, it ain't gonna happen." This arrangement features a power trio with Weinkum on bass, Geralld Gradwohl on electric guitar and Kirk Covington on drums.

"Danubio Azul" is an arrangement from another classical Viennese tune, "An der schönen blauen Donau" (more commonly known as "The Blue Danube" to those English speaking listeners), written by Austrian composer Johann Strauss II in 1866. This version of the classic is a latin/salsa arrangement featuring Caleb Michel on percussion, along with flute, piano, trumpet, violin, bass, and vocals. Definitely a strong tune for the album. Bravo!

"Abendstern" is the third and final tune on the CD that pays hommage to Mike Stern. Sweet melody with Bernard Galane on drums.

"Lullaby and Goodnight", the Johannes Brahms classic (a/k/a Cradle Song or Brahms' Lullaby) has one of the sweetest melodies and was treated very well as the closing track on the CD. The melodic line is played in unison by Weinkum on fretless electric bass and Andy Suzuki on soprano sax. Eric Zang added some nice touches of percussion throughout.

I found the CD to be quite refreshing and stimulating, not because of the 3/4 arrangements of tunes I was already familiar with, but the playing and musicianship was world-class. I highly recommend ÜberThree to anyone looking for something different in the jazz-fusion genre. In fact if your a fan of instrumental music in general, I think ÜberThree will fit the bill very nicely as the melodies, solos and overall approach is not too 'outside'.