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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

Opus 5: Introducing Opus 5

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Collectively delivered jazz albums almost always fall into one of three categories: some are outings from neophytes looking to pool their resources, while trying to build a fan base from the ground floor up; others marry the musical skills of seasoned musicians who've crossed paths in various situations and/or share a commonality in approach; and the most commercially successful, yet artistically regretfully, are usually hastily conceived or rendered performances that simply attach several big names to a project in order to cash in and make a quick buck. Introducing Opus 5, with a to-die-for grouping of modern heavyweights who speak ...

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 ...



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