Johnathan Blake: The Eleventh Hour (2012)

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Track review of "Dexter’s Tune"

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Johnathan Blake: The Eleventh Hour
Jazz violinist John Blake, Jr.'s son, drummer Johnathan Blake, makes his debut on Sunnyside Records with The Eleventh Hour. While the leader, this recording does not have any of the hallmarks of a drummer-led date. Blake is careful not to crowd his band, making his mark as solid understatement, a seasoning that imparts just the right percussive flavor to the combo's performance. He also paints across an expansive landscape, drawing from a wide expanse of music, summoning the last 60 years readily to his fingertips.

Blake likes to slice things close between the mainstream and freer jazz forms . In the midst of this edgy and modern jazz outing, Blake stumbles upon singer/songwriter Randy Newman
Randy Newman
Randy Newman
b.1943
piano
's "Dexter's Tune" from the soundtrack to the 1990 film Awakenings. This is a simple movie ballad, on that, while not melodramatic, is nevertheless memorable, as modern movie soundtracks prove to be a similarly bottomless source of material as the Tin Pan Alley and Broadway show tunes of the 1920s and '30s.

Newman's performance is solo piano accented with muted strings, but Blake leads a relatively traditional quartet treatment with tenor saxophonist Mark Turner
Mark Turner
Mark Turner
b.1965
sax, tenor
waxing poetic on its simple, yet beautiful and elegant melody. Pianist Kevin Hays
Kevin Hays
Kevin Hays
b.1968
keyboard
follows Turner's lead, lightly buffeting his lyrical lines, while Blake provides percussion that is a study in subtle layers of rhythm and time.

This is mainstream jazz performed in a straight-ahead manner that clarifies what Lester Young
Lester Young
Lester Young
1909 - 1959
saxophone
, Coleman Hawkins
Coleman Hawkins
Coleman Hawkins
1904 - 1969
sax, tenor
, Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
and Stan Getz
Stan Getz
Stan Getz
1927 - 1991
sax, tenor
were trying to say all along.

Personnel: Jonathan Blake: drums; Mark Turner: tenor saxophone; Kevin Hayes: piano; Ben Street: bass.

Record Label: Sunnyside Records


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