172

T.K. Blue: Latin Bird

Greg Simmons By

Sign in to view read count
T.K. Blue: Latin Bird For a fellow who's been dead since 1955, alto saxophonist Charlie Parker is having a really good year. Several high-profile projects have been released featuring his music, with various adjustments, tints, and abstractions, and some of these have been quite good. Now comes multi-woodwind player T.K. Blue, with Latin Bird, which adds some Latin flavor to a group of well known Parker classics.

The challenge to covering an icon like Parker—particularly if the musician in question is playing the same alto horn—is that it invites direct comparison of two musicians staring at each other over an interim sixty years. The trap for Blue would have been to try to imitate Parker's prodigious soloing because, frankly, how could he compete with that?

The alternative, and the path wisely chosen here, is to take Parker's compositions and use them like a fashion model. The model is presumably beautiful, but becomes chameleon-like, as designers project their vision on her. Blue's addition of distinct rhythms and tight arranging transforms a set of classics into something recognizable, but different enough invite a careful examination.

A melodic soloist with an effortless tone, Blue seems to draw more directly from Sonny Rollins than from Bird. "He Flew Away Too Soon" features Blue playing alone, clearly demonstrating a discerning approach to his horn. But his real work with this date is as an arranger. The songs are stretched and pulled to accommodate time signature changes, the inclusion of Rolland Guerrero's congas, and some new instrumental interludes.

"Si Si" is the best example of this approach. The melody remains firmly in place, but the drums—and the congas in particular—really make it bounce. Blue adds some call-and-response soloing between himself and guest trombonist Steve Turre, before abandoning the melody briefly to the rhythm section's Afro-Cubano sonic carpet.

The album includes exactly one Blue original: the unhurried, but very Bird-like "Moods of Parker." The congas lay out for this track, leaving the stripped-down quartet playing a straight blues that showcases pianist Theo Hill, a great pianist who's far easier to hear and appreciate when he's not competing with two percussionists.

Latin Bird has a lot going for it. The musicians are great; the choice of material is first-rate; and the arranging adds enough originality to the mix to keep it all very interesting.


Track Listing: Chi Chi; Si Si; Visa; Blue Bird; Round Midnight; Barbados; Steeplechase; Moods of Parker; Donna Lee; He Flew Away Too Soon; Buzzy.

Personnel: T.K. Blue: alto saxophone, flute; Willie Martinez: drums; Roland Guerrero: congas, percussion; Essiet Okon Essiet: acoustic and electric bass; Theo Hill: piano; Steve Turre: trombone and shells (1, 2, 4); Lewis Nash: drums (5, 8).

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Motema Music | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

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 Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
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 Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "After Dark" CD/LP/Track Review After Dark
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 20, 2016
Read "Alpha Centauri" CD/LP/Track Review Alpha Centauri
by Mark F. Turner
Published: July 4, 2016
Read "Dare to Be" CD/LP/Track Review Dare to Be
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 8, 2016
Read "Free World Music" CD/LP/Track Review Free World Music
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 31, 2016
Read "El Viaje" CD/LP/Track Review El Viaje
by James Nadal
Published: September 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!