John Blake Jr.: Motherless ChildBy
Growing up in South Philadelphia, Blake had this influence placed within him at an early age through his exposure to church services. His mother played piano and organ, and together with the stirring sounds of singers, the sacred music forged lasting impressions. Its germination shaped his musical path, one that led the classically trained artist, world-class violinist, and educator in performances with pianist McCoy Tyner, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Turtle Island Quartet, and a number of recordings as a leader. It also led to Blake's involvement in local community projects and global humanitarian efforts. This release lifts the spirit and swings anew via Blake's longtime working quartet (his son, drummer Johnathan Blake, bassist Boris Koslov, and pianist Sumi Tonooka) and special guests that include the sublime Howard University jazz vocal ensemble, Afro Blue.
Blake's empathetic yet progressive arrangements of sacred music fits well with Afro Blue's stylish and pristine voices. They move in harmony on the updated version of the title track, Blake's violin singing soulfully and guest Manteca delivering a virtuoso performance. "Go Down Moses" is heavenly; at one point, after the choir sings the verse, Blake's masterful bow lifts the time-weathered piece with a sonorous solo before the choir re-enters with some Ella Fitzgerald-style scatting and trading with Johnathan Blake's ardent traps.
The music's spirituality is undeniable but is never overwhelming. Blake's haunting intro to "A City Called Heaven" has the same impact that is present in John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" with its sense of reawakening. Other pieces are also touching, such as "A Balm In Gilead" with vocals and arrangement by Evelyn Simpson-Curenton and "I Want Jesus To Walk With Me" where Afro Blue provides some classy vocalizations reminiscent of Take Six. The music and songs in Motherless Child effectively honors the past and embraces the challenges of the present with optimism.
Motherless Child; Go Down Moses; A City Heaven (Violin Solo Intro); A City Heaven; A Balm In Gilead; Steal Away; Hold On; I Want Jesus To Walk With Me; Nobody Knows.
John Blake Jr.: violin; Johnathan Blake: drums; Boris Kozlov: bass; Evelyn Simpson-Curenton: piano, vocals (5); Sumi Tonooka: piano (3, 4, 6, 7) Mulgrew Miller: piano (1, 8); Howard University Jazz Choir: Professor Connaitre Miller: Choir director; Danielle Withers: soprano one; Tonya Khakazi: soprano one; Rachel Robinson: soprano two; Eliza Berkon: alto one; Terri Davis: alto one, alto two; Christie Dashiell: alto two; Micah Robinson:tenor; Reginald Bowens: baritone; Alex McKeithen: bass; Brian Lawson: bass.
Title: Motherless Child | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: ARC - Artists Recording Collective
Post a comment about this album
FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZAll About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELPTo expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
About John Blake
Instrument: ViolinArticle Coverage | Albums | Photos | Similar Artists