“I wanted to write something that I had never written before,” says Weiss. “The attentive listener will be able to make meaningful discoveries as he or she digests multiple layers of the music.” As most of the music was composed specifically for this album, the themes, rhythms, and harmonies are intertwined throughout the record. On his website, Weiss includes additional liner notes and diagrams detailing the compositional significance of each piece.
Math or Magic was a natural progression for Weiss, who until this project, wrote primarily for big band and small ensemble. As in his big band writing, he explores a wide variety of musical environments, using the full textural range of each instrument. While the music is founded in the jazz tradition, the listener will hear strong influences from Maurice Ravel, Steve Reich, Bernard Herrmann, and many other “classical” composers. The result is a chamber music album that transcends genre to create something unique and personal.
The scores are through composed, but nonetheless allow ample room for interpretation and improvisation. Math or Magic is an 11-piece chamber group consisting of trumpet, voice, violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, bassoon, piano, bass, and drums. In addition, production of the album includes the use of orchestral percussion, processed vocals, and dramatic sound effects.
An excerpt from the liner notes of Math or Magic:
“Balance. Much art involves elaboration or refinement of pre-existing mental constructs. Theory is an attempt to explain existing artistic phenomena. However, it also greatly impacts the direction of artistic progress. But art does not necessarily have to come from theory. There is a deeper consciousness that allows human beings to be aware of our own minds. Some art reaches this deeper level. It can touch us emotionally or even primally, in ways that relate specifically to the human condition. Great art takes a balance of mind and soul, because only together do they make us human.”