Wil Blades: Field Notes

Chris M. Slawecki By

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It's good to know that no matter how many things change around us, there's still nothing that kicks out the jams like a good old school B-3 organ, guitar and drum trio.

Wil Blades provides an excellent case study in groove. Throughout the past fifteen years, this B-3 bombardier has worked with blues and jazz greats both old school and new, such as Joe Louis Walker, Idris Muhammad, Melvin Sparks, Karl Denson, Billy Martin (Medeski Martin & Wood), Charlie Hunter and many more. Blades' second album, Field Notes germinated from sound checks, jam sessions and live improvisations brought back from the field to bear studio fruit with Blades' trio featuring guitarist Jeff Parker and drummer Simon Lott. "Both those guys can play straight-ahead jazz, they can funk, they can take it out, they can go in so many different directions," says Blades. "I always had the idea in my mind that doing a trio with Jeff Parker and Simon Lott would have a cool vibe and would be very open."

Field Notes is a stone groove from its jump off, "Intro/Miller's Time." Genuine, organic warmth radiates from the communal space built by organ, guitar and drums, as Parker digs into his funk hooks bag while Blades' sure-footed organ slips and dips along the rhythm of the drummer's funky beat—and that beat, a gloriously irresistible melt of traditional New Orleans second line and more contemporary hip-hop drum styles, sure is funky! The call and response between B-3 and guitar in "Dewey," which casts the blues in an open-ended Miles Davis electric groove ("Dewey" was Davis' middle name), flows just as naturally before dispersing like mist into a free passage that Parker's guitar sculpts into shape.

Field Notes is more than a groove, too. "Addis" is rooted in Blades' 2011 trip to play with local musicians in Ethiopia, while the colorfully spacy "Chrome" grew out of an improvisational road jam with drummer Martin. Blades' organ bass line combines with Parker's floating guitar chords to create a mood of melancholic reverie for the first part of "Parts N' Wreck"; after the break, Blades and Lott jump and wade in the deep rhythmic waters of The Meters, while Parker's guitar buzzes and stings like an electric wasp.

"On this record, I was definitely trying to come out of the lineage but then trying to look forward at the same time," Blades explains. "My whole thing is having a foot in the past and trying to have a foot in the future and to bring those two worlds together as much as possible." In different words: As it was, it is and forevermore shall be, groove without end. Amen.

Track Listing: Miller’s Time; (I Can’t Stand) The Whole Lott of You; Chrome; Dewey; Addis; Park N’ Wreck; Forgetful; Red Lanterns Are Blue; I Get The Blues When It Rains.

Personnel: Wil Blades: Hammond B3 organ, clavinet; Jeff Parker: guitar; Simon Lott: drums.

Title: Field Notes | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Royal Potato Family

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