Avery Sharpe and John Blake Duo: Epic Ebony Journey (2001)
The Jazz Violin Recast.
There is a powerful earthy ambience to bass/violin duet environment of Epic Ebony Journey. Bassist Avery Sharpe provides thick, pulsing chords beneath the humid flight of John Blake's violin. This landscape is best detected in the disc's closer, the Isham Jones standard, "There is No Greater Love". Here Sharpe lays out the groundwork for Blake's flight of fancy, and then they trade places. This fertile and virile spirit permeates the remainder of the recording also. Epic Ebony Journey is a musical documentation of the struggle in the African-American experience. "Movin' Up" and "Prayer Meetin'" are Mingus-esque tomes full of the history of the blues, jazz, and gospel music. "Underground Railroad" sports some moaning arco from Sharpe.
The duo is a splendid platform for examining the bare essentials of melody and harmony. "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child" is the perfect vehicle for earthy music that intersects with a jazz sensibility. Sharpe's rhythmic arco firmly grounds Blake's violin lament. John Coltrane's "Mr. P.C." receives a stripped-down, supercharged reading with Blake shooting spitfire notes, forming an aural halo around Sharpe's foundation. Blake takes a solo shot at McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance", pushing the melody to the limits. Sharpe's own "Jim Crow" provides the bassist with his own spotlight. Sometimes the simple things are best. This is one of those times.
Track Listing: Movin' Up; Prayer Meetin'; Underground Railroad; Motherland; Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child; His Eyes On The Sparrow; Maiden Dance; Freefall; Mr. P.C.; Promised Land; Jim Crow; There Is No Greater Love. (Total Time: 60:57)
Personnel: Avery Sharpe: Bass; John Blake, Jr.: Violin.
Record Label: JKMN