Saxophone monster Jerry Weldon – a member of the Harry Connick Jr. Band and a prolific leader of his own small combos – is no stranger to the Capitol District. He’s blown the roof off the Bread & Jam Café in Cohoes, boiled coffee with his burning solos at Spill The Beans in Troy and musically soared with the birds at the Crossings in Colonie.
This weekend, he returns to Nippertown, leading a trio with organist Kyle Koehler and drummer Joe Barna on Saturday and Sunday at Flights of Fantasy in Colonie.
Q: Jerry, you will be playing in a trio with an organist and a drummer this time around. You’ve played in a big band setting and the more traditional small combo with a bassist in the ranks. What are the differences in approaches?
A: In a “big band” setting, the approach is a little different because you’ve got less “solo” space. There’s much more emphasis on the ensemble with more written music and a little more structure.
I prefer the small group setting, as it lends itself to a freer means of expression. Now, that being said, I’m talking about freedom WITHIN a certain structure, i.e. song forms, chord changes, etc. I also like the idea of “arranging” as we go – it’s a more spontaneous approach.
Q: Have you played with the organist Kyle Koehler before?
A: Kyle and I have been working together for quite some time now, so there is also that comfort level that comes with simply playing together for a period of time.
Q: What was the first album you ever bought?
A: Miles Davis… “Walkin'”
Q: What was the first concert that you ever attended?
A: JPJ Quartet
Q: When did you first commit to music and decide that this is what you wanted to do?
A: Commitment to music… Sept. 1972… saw Stan Getz at the Village Vanguard. That did it!
Q: What was the first composition that you ever wrote? Do you still play it from time to time?
A: “A Whisper Away”… 1984… hardly ever play it anymore
Q: What was the first album that was released where you were on it as a sideman or leader?
A: As sideman with Lionel Hampton in 1982. As a leader, “Five by Five” with Bobby Forrester in 1992.
Interview and photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk