490

John Blake Jr.: Motherless Child

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
John Blake Jr.: Motherless Child The precursor to the blues as a music form was first heard in the chants and songs of African American slaves. Their lyrics of hardship, perseverance, and faith were expressed through work songs, hymns, and spirituals, some of which are beautifully interpreted on John Blake Jr.'s Motherless Child.

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.


Track Listing: 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.

Personnel: 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.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: ARC - Artists Recording Collective | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "D-Stringz" CD/LP/Track Review D-Stringz
by James Nadal
Published: February 25, 2016
Read "Miguel Angelo Quarteto: A Vida de X" CD/LP/Track Review Miguel Angelo Quarteto: A Vida de X
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 10, 2016
Read "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 1, 2016
Read "Nearness" CD/LP/Track Review Nearness
by Doug Collette
Published: October 7, 2016
Read "Richie Cole Plays Ballads & Love Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Richie Cole Plays Ballads & Love Songs
by Jim Trageser
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "Find Your Wings" CD/LP/Track Review Find Your Wings
by Jim Trageser
Published: November 5, 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!