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District Jazz

The Resounding Sound of Cindy Blackman

By Published: October 15, 2003
The Blackman Quartet closed the night with a return to a funked-out groove piece, “Seven”, followed by a rollicking encore Blackman composition, “The One”, both of which slammed with force, beguiling inventiveness, and several exhilarating solos by Blackman. Although none of these matched the no-holds-barred quality of the night’s first blistering display, each reconfirmed Blackman’s status as a percussionist expanding the limits of her instrument.

In conclusion, although Blackman readily proclaims a debt to Tony Williams—and some of her playing clearly falls within that school—this writer has avoided such comparisons; the all too common discussions of lineage and name-dropping employed in jazz criticism to place an instrumentalist historically, and probably more often, to circumnavigate the difficulty of describing an individual’s style. In the case of Blackman, comparison is more than useless. Through assiduous study, a genre vaulting career, and a rare dedication to a notoriously frustrating and critically neglected instrument, Blackman has done what only the most singular of artists is capable. She has developed a style totally her own, one marked by innovative concepts of dynamic variation, a precision and consistency of stroke no less than astonishing, and a blend of melodic, textural, and rhythmic improvisational development deserving far closer and more expert analysis than possible here.


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