Tenor Saxophonist, Composer
"A thoughtful soloist whose subtle swing has plenty
of fiber" is how Ira Gitler described tenor saxophonist Jerry Weldon in The
Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. A native New Yorker,
the tenorman is a veteran
of the New York Jazz Scene, his résumé reading like a virtual
"Who's Who of Jazz."
After graduating from the Rutgers University Jazz Program under the direction of Paul Jeffrey in 1981, Jerry joined
the legendary Lionel Hampton Orchestra, touring extensively
in the U.S., Europe, South America, and Japan. Jerry continued his association
as one of Hamp's
favorite tenor soloists through the '90s and into the new millennium. Next
came a long and rewarding tour of duty as a member of master organist Jack
McDuff & his "Heatin'
System," resulting in many fine recordings on the Concord label.
In 1990, Jerry became a charter member and featured soloist
with Harry Connick Jr.'s newly formed Big Band. Jerry
has toured the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and has also performed
on many television shows worldwide with the Connick Orchestra. In 2001, Jerry
was also part of Connick's Broadway musical production, "Thou Shalt Not" where
he appeared on stage as well as in the orchestra.
The '90s also found Jerry in another long and fruitful musical cooperative- the New York Hard Bop Quintet, along with trumpeter Joe Magnarelli, pianist
Keith Saunders, bassist Bim Strasberg and drummer Clifford Barbaro, the unit
toured throughout the U.S. & Europe while
recording four stellar albums for the Swiss TCB label.
has worked and recorded with organists Jimmy McGriff, Joey DeFrancesco,
Bobby Forrester, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Mel Rhyne, trombone great Al Grey,
piano giants George Cables and Cedar
Walton, drum legends Roy Haynes and
Jimmy Cobb as well as guitarist/singer George
Benson, guitarist Earl Klugh,
bassist Keter Betts and singer Mel Tormé.
In 2003 Jerry was involved
in a very special musical project: "Jazz @
Lincoln Center Plays the Music of Dexter Gordon". Along with fellow
tenorists Jimmy Greene and Wayne Escoffery and the George Cables Trio,
the sextet performed at New York's Kaplan Penthouse and
also toured the U.S. "That was really
special to me" Jer said, "Dexter was one
of my very favorite musicians. I was thrilled and honored
to have been a part of it."
Weldon is a bandleader in his own right, leading ensembles
at many of New York's jazz clubs and at jazz festivals
around the U.S. He has recorded several albums under
his own name, among them, "Head To Head," a
swinging two-tenor date with Michael Karn on the Criss Cross Jazz label "Midtown
rousing quintet with long time collaborator Joe Mags (Magnarelli) recorded live at Fat Tuesdays in NYC, and two hard-swinging
dates with the late, great organist, Jerry's long-time
pal, Bobby Forrester. "It
was after working with Bobby all those years that made
it easier to the go with Jack (McDuff), Jimmy (McGriff)
and all the other cats" says Jer, "Bobby
was truly a hero of mine."
Jer continues to be extremely active on the New York scene- "I just
want to keep it swinging. If I can do that, I'm happy."
When it comes to tenor saxophone sounds, Jerry
Weldon has one of the biggest, and warmest, around. A veteran of
such notables as Brother Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, and Harry Connick,
Jr., Weldon knows how to swing, to find notes that hit you just right.
The tenorman plays blues, ballads and jump tunes with Union City
organ wizard Kyle Kohler and up-and-coming drummer Jason Brown Wednesday
(and each Wednesday), 9 p.m.
- 1:30 a.m., at Smoke Jazz Club and Lounge, 2751 Broadway at 106th
Street, New York. No music charge, $10 minimum. Call
(212) 864-6662 or visit www.smokejazz.com
–Zan Stewart, / Newark
February 1, 2006