G. Calvin Weston and the Phoenix Orchestra Dust and Ash
Published May 21, 2019This is a tight and ferocious work marrying advanced string section composition and a smoking, groove-heavy rock-jazz fusion unit. Pianist David Dzubinski and Grant Calvin Weston (drums, pocket trumpet) share the bulk of the composition credits, while solos are shared by the ensemble players, featuring Carlos Santiago and Benjamin Sutin (violins), Ajibola Rivers (cello), Elliot Garland (bass), Tom Spiker (guitar) and vocalist Kayle Brecher.
While the debt to the Mahavishnu Orchestra is evident, the intros and segue sections reflect a 20th century classical feel, creating a thoughtful but no less acute space for the groove tracks that follow.
When that happens, it's a wild ride, propelled by Weston's precise and no-holds-barred drum kit that drives the whole ensemble into a precise frenzy. Weston has a track to himself, called "Thunder," that displays a virtuosity in both technique and compositional feel.
While this music can definitely be filed under "fusion," the imaginative and sensitive use of strings and vocal to provide a sympathetic contrast to the rock make it special. (577 Records)