118

Ron Blake: Lest We Forget

Matt Merewitz By

Sign in to view read count
Ron Blake: Lest We Forget
Ron Blake’s latest effort on Detroit-based Mack Avenue Records is a dedication to the organ trio as an institution. In paying tribute to three legendary musicians he enlists the help of fellow Virgin Islander trumpeter Rawshawn Ross (five tracks) and guitarist David Gilmore (four tracks). The core of the trio is made up of three extraordinary musicians: organist Joey DeFrancesco, drummer Greg Hutchinson and bassist Christian McBride. Blake is in McBride’s group (appearing on the bassist's last two CDs) and has enlisted his longtime friend as co-producer on Lest We Forget.

This album is geared for those who relish the good ole days of the organ trio (with the indispensable tenor saxophone). While reminiscent of groove-oriented soul vamps, it keeps the material fresh with nods to psych rock and straight-ahead jazz. Not surprisingly, the album is a tribute to three musicians who tragically died in close succession – saxophonists Grover Washington Jr. and Stanley Turrentine, and organist Charles Earland.

“I felt like I needed to do something to pay tribute to these three men,” says Blake.

Blake's rendition of Earland’s "More Today than Yesterday" sparkles with nostalgia, Ross’ trumpet obligato lines sweetly woven behind Blake’s commanding melody. The energy really builds in the shout section with Blake and Joey D propelling the band to a climactic ending. Equally impressive, if a bit lower key, is Grover Washington’s "Happenstance." Ross’ solo flows with the bravura of Chuck Mangione’s flugel and the hard bop edge of Lee Morgan.

Though it takes a while to warm up, Washington’s chart topper "Mister Magic" is lit up especially by DeFrancesco’s solo and comping behind the soloists. Unfortunately, Blake doesn’t appear at the top of his game here, which is somewhat of a letdown given the possibilities of a tune that is simply a two-chord vamp. One could argue he tries to “keep it real” by playing simply, but I’ve seen him play live and I know he is capable of more.

Christian McBride’s acoustic presence is something else as he duos with Blake on Michel Legrand’s "You Must Believe in Spring." Their years of work together are evident here in their rapport and ability to play off of each other.

The highlight of the album, though, is Earland’s "Mighty Burner," with powerful solo statements from Blake, DeFrancesco and a great trading section with Hutchinson. The last two tracks provide some variety and should not be overlooked. On "Asalto Navideno," Blake shares his musical heritage as a native of the Virgin Islands with a grooving minor Caribbean romp. Finally, Blake shows his skills as a balladeer on J.J. Johnson’s aptly-titled "Lament."

Blake’s tone and style show through in everything he plays. He's maturing quickly into a fine complete musician with an equal affinity for grooves, tunes with tough changes, and frankly anything you throw in front of him. Expect to hear a lot from Ron Blake as both keeper of the flame and innovator.

Track Listing

Sara's Dance, More Today Than Yesterday, Happenstance, Mister Magic, You Must Believe In Spring, Minor Chant, Making Love To You, Mighty Burner, Asalto Navideno, Lament.

Personnel

Ron Blake, tenor and soprano saxes; Joey DeFrancesco, organ; Greg Hutchinson, drums; Christian McBride, bass; David Gilmore, guitar; Rashawn Ross, trumpet.

Album information

Title: Lest We Forget | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Mack Avenue Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read HH
HH
Lionel Loueke
Read Secrets & Lies
Secrets & Lies
Jakko M. Jakszyk
Read Dominos
Dominos
Chuck Anderson
Read Ceremonie / Musique
Ceremonie / Musique
What Happens In A Year
Read Hypnotized
Hypnotized
Jason "Spicy G" Goldman
Read Molecular
Molecular
James Brandon Lewis

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.