Mike Clark: Blueprints of Jazz, Vol. 1 (2008)
's passionate piano starts a string of strong solos, with saxophonists Jed Levy and Donald Harrison blowing hard. The song culminates with Clark's chops-heavy display of taste and technique. "Like That" falls somewhere in the middle of jazz, funk and fusion, an area that Clark knows all too well, with Christian Scott joining the fray with some bold trumpet work. The slow, woozy swing of "10th Ave. 1957" evokes images of raunchy dives and smoke-filled haunts. Harrison and Scott brilliantly bring these elements into greater focus during this seductive performance. The high-energy, Middle Eastern-tinged "Past Lives" fuses Latin grooves with funk, an opportunity for the saxophones, Clark and bassist Christian McBride to have some fun before the song fades out.
The album kicks off with the up-tempo swinger, "In The House." Patrice Rushen
past on this album, and he puts together some tasty linear grooves on "Loft Funk." The melody line and stylistic traits seem to make this piece a close relative of Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance"; Clark and Levy have written a buoyant, happy tune that oozes soul. Scott's "Clark Kent" is a quartet number that gives Scott, Rushen and McBride ample solo space, while Clark holds down the fort.
Clark lays down a solid shuffle groove on "Thanks Len," and this proves to be one of the album's most straight-ahead performances. Rushen's bluesy touch is a nice contrast to her previous solos, and Clark quietly moves over to the hi-hat for McBride's solo spot. Clark doesn't completely forsake his Headhunters
's "I Want To Talk About You." Harrison's heartfelt playing is a delight to hear and Clark stirs the souland the drums, with his sensitive brushwork, as the album comes to a close.
Clark and McBride create a deep swing groove in five on "Conchita's Dance," a track that, despite the fire and energy of the soloists, is really about the bond and groove created by the rhythm section, and sustained throughout. "Morning Becomes Electra" is a hard driving, up-tempo burner which features some stunning solo work from Clark. The only thing that seems to be missing is a ballad, and Clark fills in this gap with Billy Eckstine
Track Listing: In The House; Like That; 10th Ave. 1957; Past Lives; Thanks Len; Loft Funk; Clark Kent; Conchita's Dance; Morning Becomes Electra; I Want To Talk About You.
Personnel: Mike Clark: drums; Christian McBride: bass; Patrice Rushen: piano; Christian Scott: trumpet; Donald Harrison: alto saxophone; Jed Levy: tenor saxophone.
Record Label: Talking House Records
Style: Modern Jazz