How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
A fierce and dynamic performer, Cindy Blackman is one of the top female drummers around, well-known for her years with cult rock icon Lenny Kravitz. A far cry from gigs for thousands of screaming fans, her muse is rooted in jazz, where she is an equally intrepid craftsperson having released a number of noteworthy, if lesser-known titles including High Note's In The Now (1998) with Ravi Coltrane, Jacky Terrasson and Ron Carter, and Someday (2001) with her current bandsaxophonist J.D. Allen, keyboardist Carlton Holmes and bassist George Mitchell.
Music For The New Millennium is a two-CD release that's thoroughly engaging. Touching mainstream swing, urban grooves and progressive music, this is a fine showing for Blackman's skills and band that pushes the edges yet remains accessible.
Blackman is a drummer of agility and thunder, bringing to mind the propulsion and energy of the great Tony Williams, but clearly with her own identity. She solos with the music, always in motion flurries, drum rolls, shuffles, and heavy backbeatsat times a constant barrage of sound, at other times pure finesse.
"Abracadabra magically sets a progressive stance with Holmes' Fender Rhodes providing icy chords, Allen's tenor the warmth, and Blackman and Mitchell the heat. Many of the tunes such as "Seven and "Black Town, have vamps where the musicians solo freely around ostinato pasterns.
Detroit tenorist J.D. Allen is a delightful surprise with a superb style that's warm and emotional, flowing with sophistication like seminal players Ron Blake and Ravi Coltrane. A cool yet dignified street persona fills the music as Blackman offers respects to her influences: "For Wayne, for Wayne Shorter; "Black Town, for Harlem; and the brilliant "Insight pieces for familyspanning from "Right Now to "The Future the five tracks marked by a contagious repeating melody in various tempos and interpretations, each passionate and soulful.
Disc two is even more ear-provoking than disc one, opening with the gorgeous ballad "Sam Pei, where the aesthetic of each instrument is artfully captured. Blackman's obliterating drum solo on "The Drums and Me is contrasted by her delicate and intricate traps on "Star In Eyes, where Holmes spreads a blanket of tinkling keys. Hard-hitting riffs drive "All I Want, while the final "Insight piece, "The Future, reaches a galaxy expanding climax and the recording closes with Blackman's personal snapshot in time, the hymnal "Come to the Garden Alone. A stupendous and inspiring release.
Track Listing: CD1: Abracadabra; Seven; Insight (Past Wisdom); Letter To Theo;
Black Town ((For Harlem); Insight (Right Now); For Wayne (Shorter That Is);
The Infinite (For My Grandmother); THE ONE (For God). CD2: Sam Pei; The Drums And Me; Stars In Eyes; Insight (From My Father);
Theme To Ginger's Rise; All I Want; Insight (From My Mother); Insight (The Future); Come To The Garden Alone.