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Seamus Blake displays impressive talent as a tenor saxophonist, composer and leader on Live in Italy, a double CD documenting his quartet's tour through various cities in 2007, where audiences were treated to an eclectic blend of dynamic originals and standards.
Originals like "The Jupiter Line," "Way Out of Willy" and "Fear of Roaming" favor the bop genre. Blake's tone is clean, with uncluttered lines and robust phrases. The band works off the themes and branches out to sophisticated straight-ahead lines, where pianist David Kikoski, bassist Danton Boller and drummer Rodney Green play vigorously behind Blake. Many jazz re-workings of classical tunes tend to favor driving, up-tempo variations, but Blake's ambitious arrangement of Debussy's "String Quartet in G minor" is surprisingly measured and affecting.
The band plays Duke Ellington's "The Feeling of Jazz" at perfect pitch, with Blake blowing his blues riffs passionately, touching the strident upper register. Kikoski's "Spacing" is a daringly impressionistic flirtation with free music; the dialogue between Blake and Kikoski is crisp as they build on each other's ideas. Green and Boller thrash and brood alongside their band mates and the tune quickly becomes a spirited debate. And the band is undaunted by the chord changes in guitarist John Scofield's "Dance Me Home," another wicked tune driven by Kikoski's brilliant playing. If something must be quarreled with here, it's the use of electronic enhancements in a few songs, such as echo chambers and wah-wah pedals. Their appearance, although sporadic, is a distraction. But this is a minor quibble. Otherwise Live in Italy is an excellent disc.
Track Listing: CD1: The Jupiter Line; Way Out of Willy; String Quartet in G Minor; Fear of Roaming. CD2: The Feeling of Jazz; Spacing; Ladeirinha; Darn That Dream; Dance Me Home.
I love jazz because with it I found my true voice. I have always sung since I was a very small child in school and church. And there have been many genre that I have enjoyed including spiritual, folk, country, latin, soca and pop
I love jazz because with it I found my true voice. I have always sung since I was a very small child in school and church. And there have been many genre that I have enjoyed including spiritual, folk, country, latin, soca and pop. But nothing has touched my artistic sensiblities like JAZZ! Two years ago I moved to Sarasota, FL where I renewed my focus on my singing career and I was so impressed with the quality, quantity and generousity of talented jazz musicains in the Suncoast area. I soon partnered with piano legend Billy Marcus and his trio with Don Mopsick and Stephen Bucholtz. What a blast working with these guys and having them back me up on my first jaz album, Here's To You... which was just released on October 1st. I can't wait to see where the coming year brings me! Check out syniacarrolljazz.com