How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Fellowship lead instrumentalists Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jon Cowherd and Brian Blade work the modern mainstream of jazz through creative impressionism and expressive jams. Saxophonists Melvin Butler and Myron Walden work alongside bass and pedal steel guitar to produce a distinctive set of timbres. They're thrilling from start to finish; and yet, Fellowship is driven by a drummer who prefers to remain in the back seat. Twenty-nine year old Blade builds sonic landscapes based on the nightly news and all else that occupies our thoughts. It's mainstream jazz for today's society. After all, whatever is reported from the next town or the other side of the world could very well turn out to be tomorrow's news in our own neighborhood. Fellowship's credo reflects, in part, a sincere feeling that we're all brothers and that whatever affects the others makes a difference to us all.
With a few lyrics here and there and a guest appearance by Joni Mitchell, the program features original compositions by members of the ensemble. Frequent meter changes suit their purpose, as impressions of boyhood memories, social issues, and related emotions take center stage. Rosenwinkel's guitar breathes fire on "Evinrude-Fifty" and "Crooked Creek." Both saxophonists and the pedal steel guitar offer crucial impressions, particularly on "Crooked Creek." Highly recommended, Fellowship's second Blue Note album reflects upon contemporary social issues through its distinctive, contemporary, modern jazz sound.
Track Listing: Perceptual; Evinrude-Fifty (Trembling); Reconciliation; Crooked Creek; Patron Saint of Girls; The Sunday Boys (Improvisation); Variations of a Bloodline: From the Same Blood, Fellowship (Like Brothers), Mustangs (Class of 1988); Steadfast; Trembling.
Personnel: Brian Blade- drums, acoustic guitar on "Steadfast," vocal and acoustic guitar on "Trembling;" Jon Cowherd- piano, Fender Rhodes, pump organ; Christopher Thomas- acoustic bass; Melvin Butler- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Myron Walden- alto saxophone, bass clarinet; Dave Easley- pedal steel guitar; Kurt Rosenwinkel- electric and acoustic guitars.
Guests:Daniel Lanois- guitar on "Steadfast," pedal steel guitar on "Trembling;" Joni Mitchell- vocal on "Steadfast."