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In paying tribute to her friend and mentor Tony Williams through songs and other material associated with him, drummer Cindy Blackman proves that she is not a slavish imitator. Blackman has always been a tasteful drummer. Never obtrusive, she strikes the right combination of dynamics, harmony, and accent. At home both in jazz and rock, this is the perfect vehicle for her.
The moods on this release are varied. The textures on "Vashkar" are thrust into the open through Blackman's use of traps, bass, and cymbals that change and shape the dimension. The atmosphere gets dense and emblematic of jazz-rock when Mike Stern adds his melodic waves of sound. It all comes to a head on the intense three-way between Blackman, Stern, and Doug Carn on the organ. However, it is quite a different angle on "VashkarThe Alternate Dimension Theory" where the pulse is drawn back and the spaced out elements add a loose eclecticism. The pith is gradually upped by Stern and Carn with the dynamo Blackman stirring the rhythm and locking in the terrain with her powerful yet lyrical phrasing.
Blackman teams up with Joe Lovano on "Love Song." The duet setting pares the tune down but the emotive cord between them has grit. Lovano opens with free flutters but quickly settles into the melody. His approach has just enough thrust not to overwhelm, and he reels off potent ideas in the even keel of his exploration. It all ties in with the myriad colors Blackman injects on the cymbals.
"Wildlife" is a scorcher with guitarist Vernon Reid igniting the heat. Rock and funk meet and assimilate, the change of mood coming from Patrice Rushen whose lithe movement on the Fender Rhodes livens the progression.
Blackman proves to be a credible and eloquent witness to the legacy of Williams.
Track Listing: Vashkar; Where; Beyond Games; Vashkar Reprise; 40 Years of Innovation;
The Game Theory; Vashkar--The Alternate Dimension Theory; Love Song; And
Heaven Welcomed a King; There Comes a Time; Wildlife.
Personnel: Cindy Blackman: drums, vocals; Doug Carn: organ; Benny Rietveld: bass;
Mike Stern: guitar; Carlton Holmes: synthesizer; Fionn O Lochlainn:
guitar; Joe Lovano: tenor sax; Vernon Reid: guitar; Patrice Rushen:
Fender Rhodes & synthesizer; David Santos: bass.