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Interviews

Russel Blake: Transcending Expectations

By Published: March 17, 2009
"The importance of music cannot be overestimated. The importance of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to make that music more substantive, can not be overestimated. We should allow ourselves to become interested in geology, and interested in philosophy, to become interested in so many other avenues of knowledge that are available to us. By doing so, it changes our perceptions. And once your perception is changed, you then apply that not only to yourself as a human being, but you apply it to your craft. And you begin to understand your place in the scheme of things, and how important it is to be a musician."

Russel BlakeBy transcending the expectations of his instrument, Russel Blake has helped establish the four string electric bass as a legitimate solo instrument. He has played and recorded with a long list of noted artists including Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
, Pharoah Sanders
Pharoah Sanders
Pharoah Sanders
b.1940
saxophone
, Paquito D'Rivera
Paquito D'Rivera
Paquito D'Rivera
b.1948
saxophone
, Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
b.1961
trumpet
, and Clifton Anderson
Clifton Anderson
Clifton Anderson
b.1957
trombone
. Blake has performed in the Broadway productions of The Lion King and Dreamgirls, and even made his mark as an educator, having taught at several colleges and universities across the United States. Using his unique skills and valuable insights he also strives to broaden the public's appreciation of music through a program entitled The Universal Language Music History and Cultural Program, which he presents at schools, universities, prisons, military installations, art galleries, and senior centers. And Blake continues to add to his body-of-work as a recording artist with his latest release entitled Quiet Strength (Man of Psalms Records, 2008).

But Blake's greatest accomplishment to-date may best be reflected in the altered perceptions of those for whom he has demonstrated his unique talent, and with whom he has shared his enlightened views. Through his actions and extraordinary insight, Russel Blake is changing the way people view music in general. And he presents a compelling case attributing a much greater significance to music than as merely a pleasant diversion.

Selected Discography:

Russel Blake, Ten Fingers & Four Strings Solo Series (Man of Psalms Records, 2008)

Russel Blake, Quiet Strength (Man of Psalms Records, 2008)

Russel Blake, Silent Power (Man of Psalms Records, 2007)

Sonny Rollins, Milestone Profiles (Fantasy Records, 2006)

Cybill Shepherd, Jazz Baby (Casablanca Kids, 2005)

The Village People, In the Street (Can't Stop Productions, 1999)

Hilton Ruiz, Something Grand (RCA / Novus, 1986)

Sonny Rollins, Sunny Days, Starry Nights (Milestone, 1984)

Paquito D'Rivera, Blowin' (CBS Records, 1981)

TS Monk, House of Music (Mirage Records, 1981)

TS Monk, More of the Good Life (Mirage Records, 1981)

Photo Credits

Top Photo: Donald Tipton

Bottom Photo: Jaime Valle


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