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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Seamus Blake and Chris Cheek: Reeds Ramble

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As leader of the 1995 funky, alternative/electronic music group The Bloomdaddies, saxophonist Seamus Blake released the band's debut album Bloomdaddies (Criss Cross 1110, 1996) that included fellow reed man Chris Cheek among the personnel. Twenty-years later, after forging independent careers as sidemen, big band soloists and leaders of their own groups, on Reeds Ramble, Blake and Cheek reunite once again in a jazz outing that lays down 'their' version of the oft used term “tenor madness." There's a slight double entendre with the title of the album which, not only refers to the obvious rambling saxophone play from both co-leaders ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Seamus Blake and Chris Cheek: Reeds Ramble

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Saxophonists Seamus Blake and Chris Cheek are both into their third decades as professional musicians. Their working relationship goes back to the early-90s when Cheek was a member of Blake's “alternative grunge jazz" band The Bloomdaddies. On Reeds Ramble (the title is borrowed from a tune written by guitarist Jerry Reed) the two men lead a quintet on a selection of tunes ranging from Elmo Hope's upbeat “De Dah" to Brian Wilson's oddly unsettling “'Til I Die," with one original each from the saxophonists. Blake and Cheek have brought together a tremendous rhythm section, which includes The Bad ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Seamus Blake Quintet: Live At Smalls

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Recorded at the Greenwich Village club on August 31st and September 1st 2009, Live At Smalls showcases the inventive sound of English-born, Canadian-raised and New York-based Seamus Blake. The tenor saxophonist's career to date includes membership in the Mingus Big Band, BANN and the Victor Lewis Quintet, as well as his own combos. Live At Smalls finds Blake leading a sharp and swinging quintet on a series of post-bop originals and a cover of “Stranger in Paradise." The quintet on these dates also appears on Bellwether (Criss Cross, 2010). The musicians work well together, as an ensemble ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Seamus Blake: Bellwether

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SSome albums are named for a time, a place, an experience, or even a person. Others have a concept. Saxophonist Seamus Blake takes on concept with Bellwether, a term for leader or trendsetter. Born in England and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Blake has gained recognition by Down Beat and JazzTimes magazines, and finished first in the 2002 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition. His associations include Mark Turner, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Larry Grenadier and Victor Lewis. For Bellwether, Blake is accompanied by guitarist Lage Lund, pianist David Kikoski, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Bill Stewart. “A Beleza Que Vem," ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Seamus Blake: Bellwether

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This is a great period for tenor players, with some of the best in our midst: Chris Potter, Jimmy Greene, Donny McCaslin, Marcus Strickland, and Seamus Blake, among others. Surfacing in the Mingus Big Band during the nineties, Blake's aggressive edginess was impressive in a group which took no prisoners. The tenor saxophonist more than held his own. Recently, he seems to be refining and elaborating his improvisational style while further developing his compositional skills.

With Bellwether, Blake brings a number of shrewd twists and extensions to the contemporary, post-hard bop genre. This is much the same band as on ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Seamus Blake: Live in Italy

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Seamus Blake displays impressive talent as a tenor saxophonist, composer and leader on Live in Italy, a double CD documenting his quartet's tour through various cities in 2007, where audiences were treated to an eclectic blend of dynamic originals and standards. Originals like “The Jupiter Line," “Way Out of Willy" and “Fear of Roaming" favor the bop genre. Blake's tone is clean, with uncluttered lines and robust phrases. The band works off the themes and branches out to sophisticated straight-ahead lines, where pianist David Kikoski, bassist Danton Boller and drummer Rodney Green play vigorously behind Blake. Many ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Seamus Blake Quartet: Live in Italy

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Born in London, England and reared in Vancouver, Canada, saxophonist Seamus Blake has established himself as both a leader and an effective sideman. He brings those leadership skills to the two-disc Live in Italy.Blake has gained recognition from Down Beat and Jazz Times magazines, and he finished first in the 2002 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. His associations include Mark Turner, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Larry Grenadier and Victor Lewis. For his first live recording, he's accompanied by pianist David Kikoski, drummer Rodney Green and bassist Danton Boller.The set opens with “The Jupiter Line," where Kikoski's solo ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Seamus Blake Quartet: Live in Italy

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Back in 2002, Seamus Blake established himself firmly as tenor player of interest with a first place finish in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. Since then, his rapidly growing discography, as well as collaborations with artists like John Scofield, suggests that the attention is well-deserved.

Even still, Blake's first live release represents a major step forward for the saxophonist. This two-disc set, culled from several shows in Italy, finds him cutting loose with a quartet that sounds as good as any working the music today. Featuring the superb rhythm section of pianist David Kikoski, bassist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joel Haynes Trio + Seamus Blake: Transitions

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How many hands does Joel Haynes have? If you answered (two) correctly, you may have serious doubts when you listen to Transitions (Cellar Live, 2008). Haynes appears to hear many different rhythms concurrently and uses every limb at his disposal to bring them to life. He is able to create an intense rattle at his snare, clunk a stick at its rim, roll onto the tom-tom, let fly at the cymbals adding splashes of brazen color to a harmonic backdrop and tantalize with sonic bombs with thunderous contrapuntal thuds at the bass drum. All while smacking the high-hat periodically to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Seamus Blake: Way Out Willy

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It's been six years since Seamus Blake's last recording for Criss Cross, and the tenor saxophonist wasn't thinking about a new one until approached in 2006 by label owner/producer Gerry Teekens. The result, Way Out Willy, has the spontaneous feel of a session more focused on improvisation than composition.

That's not to say the six Blake originals are anything but thoroughly engaging. But in a time where his contemporaries are often approaching the modern mainstream through more complex compositional constructs, Blake's writing is more concise. With the exception of the burning modal 5/4 “Badlands and the broodingly expansive 9/4 “Hoi ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Seamus Blake/The Bloomdaddies: Mosh For Lovers

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Saxophonist Seamus Blake asks the musical question: why can’t jazz musicians be rock stars too? His band Bloomdaddies delivers the answer: The square root of pi cannot be written with much certainty.

In other words, rocks stars are rock stars because of the swagger factor, not (in most cases) musicianship. The Bloomdaddies have plenty of swank AND the musical credentials to back up their braggadocio.

Saxophonists Seamus Blake and Chris Cheek both have impressive discographies. Cheek having recorded with Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band and Blake with Victor Lewis, Kevin Hays and The Mingus Big ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brad Turner Quartet, featuring Seamus Blake: Live at the Cellar

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This hour-long cd has been spinning for 5 hours now, and is no closer to retirement than when it started the job. Thank Brad Turner - trumpet, Seamus Blake - Sax, Bruno Hubert - Rhodes piano, Andre Lachance - Bass, Dylan Van Der Schyff - drums for that. 'If It Was Me' journeys on for 10 minutes, in one of the fastest paces on the disc, with some good feelin', if simple, brass combos, while Bruno dances about like an Isaac Hayes inmate.

Seamus Blake really brings a lot in with this one. His long, freaky solo in 'Ba-lue Bolivar ...



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