Jan 20, 2016
Multi-instrumentalists are not unusual on the bandstand or in the studio these days. Reed players switch off from clarinet to saxophone, string players move between multi-stringed instruments from around the world. What IS unusual is Mark Weinstein’s multi-instrumental tale. By the age of 14, when he started to play trombone in Erasmus Hall High School, he also tried clarinet and drums. Playing his first professional gig on trombone at 15, he added string bass, a common double in NYC at that time.
A few years later, along with Barry Rogers, Weinstein formed Eddie Palmieri’s first trombone section, changing the sound of salsa forever. With his heart in jazz, Weinstein was a major contributor to the development of the salsa trombone playing and arranging. He extended jazz attitudes and techniques in his playing with salsa bands. His arrangements broadened the harmonic base of salsa while introducing folkloric elements for authenticity and depth. Mark continued to record with Eddie Palmieri, with Cal Tjader and with Tito Puente. He toured with Herbie Mann for years, played with Maynard Ferguson, and the big bands of Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Jones and Lewis, Lionel Hampton, Duke Pearson and Kenny Dorham. In 1967 he wrote and recorded the Afro-Cuban jazz album, Cuban Roots for the legendary salsa producer Al Santiago. Called by many the “Holy Grail of Latin Jazz” due to its rarity today, the album revolutionized Latin jazz; combining authentic folkloric drum ensembles with harmonically complex extended jazz solos and arrangements. Chick Corea was on piano and the rhythm section included the finest and most knowledgeable Latin drummers: Julito Collazo, Tommy Lopez Sr. and Papaito (timbalero with La Sonora Matancera) .
And then, a change of heart, a change of lifestyle and a change of career found Mark Weinstein putting away the trombone forever.
It took almost ten years before he returned to the music scene. He earned a Ph.D in Philosophy with a specialization in mathematical logic. He became a college professor (and remains so until this day). When he returned to the music scene in 1978 playing the flute, he wrote produced and recorded the Orisha Suites. Slowly her returned to the jazz world, and now has released more than 25 albums of jazz flute, touching on Brazlia, Latin Jazz, Straight Ahead and now, Jewish Themes on his new CD In Jerusalem.
Taking classic Hasidic melodies that occurred in liturgy known as “nigun” – wordless melody to sing in preparation of or participation in prayer – he has assembled a group to bring a jazz treatment to ancient music. Joining Mark on the CD are guitarist Steve Peskoff, bassist Gilad Abro, drummer Haim Peskoff (Steve’s son) and percussionist Gilad Dobrecky.
Podcast 516 is my conversation with Mark Weinstein about his career, his transition from Trombone to Flute and the new CD. Musical selections from In Jerusalem include: “Reporzaras”, “Mizmor L’David”, “Meir’s Nigun” and a waltz dedicated to his parents “Yaakov U’ Malka.”