142

Rob Blakeslee Quartet: Last Minute Gifts

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
There is a conversation going on in jazz these days, and I’m not referring to the debate as to whether Ken Burns is the anti-Christ. I also am not referring to apparent contention raised by the PBS wonderboy that jazz, although dead (since 1962), makes a nice museum piece. The conversation I am refering to is the one carried on between musicians who are burdened by the entire weight of 100 years of recorded jazz history. It’s no wonder that they either play jazz as repertory music (Mingus Big Band), as background sound (smooth jazz), or as the militant avant-garde, thus eliminating most listeners. To be an individual in modern music so often involves the resolve not to be popular.

But you don’t get that feeling from the music of trumpeter Rob Blakeslee. His free-bop associations involve a disciplined avant leaning without alienation of the listener. This date is his second for Louie Records. The band has remained unchanged except for the substitution of trombonist Michael Vlatkovich for the 1999 Waterloo Ice House tenor saxophonist Rich Halley. Both Blakeslee and Vlatkovich have made their way through the West Coast improv scene recording for Vinny Golia’s Nine Winds label. Bassist Clyde Reed and label chief/drummer Dave Storrs rounds out the quartet heard here. Both are active free-form artists, Reed with the New Orchestra Workshop and Storrs in his many incarnations solo and with The Tone Sharks, Boundary Issues, and Lil’ Big Boy.

This remarkable quartet carries on the conversation referred to above, with an earnest tone, but without the serious sad young men approach. Blakeslee is a reincarnation of Don Cherry and Lester Bowie. He can run fast lines or dribble gutbucket chum. His compositions for Last Minute Gifts are open enough for interpretation yet written with a natural structure. They propel themselves sometimes by the bass/drum rhythm duo, other time through the sheer intensity of a soloist. Vlatkovich is a perfect counterbalance for Blakeslee. He plays grand long lines, tracks the trumpeter note for note, or rasps a vocal trombone conversation with the leader. Drummer Storrs has a way of time keeping beyond his drumheads with brushwork and cymbal rides, something like Miles Davis playing as few notes as possible. Storr’s silence has a pulse all it’s own.

This quartet carries on the ongoing colloquy of modern jazz. They do so with life/music affirming passion. Jazz isn’t dead and it doesn’t smell funny. It just continues to grow and foster energy below the radar of the uninformed. Available from Louie Records .


Track Listing: Moss People; Megan

Personnel: Rob Blakeslee

| Record Label: Louie Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Wrong is Right" CD/LP/Track Review Wrong is Right
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "City Of Poets" CD/LP/Track Review City Of Poets
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 3, 2016
Read "Miles Smiles" CD/LP/Track Review Miles Smiles
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 2, 2016
Read "AMa AZa LaNdO" CD/LP/Track Review AMa AZa LaNdO
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 23, 2016
Read "The Golden Measure" CD/LP/Track Review The Golden Measure
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 25, 2016
Read "Transatlantic Conversations: 11 Piece Band Live" CD/LP/Track Review Transatlantic Conversations: 11 Piece Band Live
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!