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Live Reviews

Chick Corea / Christian McBride / Brian Blade: Ottawa, Canada, October 3, 2010

By Published: October 12, 2010
The drummer's own compositional contribution, "Alpha and Omega," was a numinous tone poem, and a strong endorsement of Blade as more than "just" a drummer: his Fellowship Band, heard most recently on Season of Changes (Verve, 2008) and featuring Blade's distinctive writing, has become one of modern jazz's most influential groups; while Mama Rosa (Verve, 2009) has proven Blade—not surprisingly, based on his often richly thematic and song-form-like writing for Fellowship—to be a deeply spiritual, warm and honest singer/songwriter. Still, "Alpha and Omega" was a relatively abstract contrast to his Americana-centric writing—like Season of Changes' melodically memorable "Stoner Hill"—demonstrating, perhaps, a new compositional direction that still manages to reflect the many interests that Blade has had the opportunity to explore and develop with Fellowship.

Brian Blade

The trio closed the set with "Fingerprints," Corea's answer to saxophonist Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
"s iconic "Footprints." First appearing on Past, Present and Futures (Stretch, 2001), with his then "New Trio" of bassist Avishai Cohen
Avishai Cohen
Avishai Cohen
b.1971
bass
and drummer Jeff Ballard
Jeff Ballard
Jeff Ballard
b.1963
drums
, and later revisited on the Chillin' in Chelan disc of his Japan-only Five Trios (Stretch, 2007) box set—again with Ballard but, this time, with McBride onboard—the Ottawa performance raised the bar even higher, with Blade, in particular, delivering a set-defining solo as his body, at one point, raised off his drum stool as he pushed forward with reckless abandon and near-brute force. McBride and Corea delivered equally visceral solos, driving the audience immediately to its feet at its powerful conclusion, demanding an encore which brought the concert full circle—ending, as it began, with a Joe Henderson tune, this time the better-known "Isotope."

Despite turning 70 next year, Corea's career—like a number peers including guitarist John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin
b.1942
guitar
, with whom the pianist collaborated for the Five Peace Band (Stretch, 2009) album, and a tour that brought the quintet (also featuring McBride, Blade and saxophonist Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett
b.1960
sax, alto
) to Montreal in the spring of the same year—is actually picking up speed, with 34 dates booked between now and the end of 2010. Blade, in addition to working on material for a new Fellowship album and a follow-up to Mama Rosa, is equally booked out, with more dates in this trio, half a dozen Fellowship dates and a special concert for the Portland Rescue Mission, organized by singer/songwriter Emmylou Harris. In addition to dates with Corea and his own Inside Straight band, McBride has three albums in the can, all in need of mixing for release beginning in 2011, including his first ever big band record.

As busy as everyone is, it only made the stunning display of collective virtuosity and empathic chemistry all the more remarkable, especially considering that this date was only the fifth show of the tour. It was a tremendous way to kick-off the Ottawa Jazz Festival Fall/Winter season; if the rest of its program is anywhere near this good, then Ottawa jazz fans are in for a very good year.

Photo Credit

All Photos: John Kelman


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