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A talented in-demand Broadway/jazz bassist, Michael Blanco's No Time Like The Present announces his second album as leader presenting a collection of refreshing new jazz originals offered by a dynamic quintet that features veteran saxophonist John Ellis and New York guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg among the cast. The two-time recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award, designs a sparkling session of riveting modern-style jazz not to be missed. Though it's Blanco's compositional skills that carry the date on this outing, the bassist's strong performance throughout is not to be dismissed as his solo performance on "Postcard (for solo bass)" so aptly demonstrates.
Overlooking the intimidating title ("Dutch Kills") of the opening track, the music reveals an elegant light texture marked by glowing solo statements from members of the band. The title piece is fast-paced and up-tempo featuring Ellis and Kreisberg trading salvos in the first burner of the disc. "You Really Shouldn't" follows in much the same vein this time featuring pianist David Cook and drummer Mark Ferber providing the energy. Propelled by torrid tenor solos and strong guitar riffs, the fire seems to burn brightest on the hard-driving "RSVP," one of the bassist's finest compositions. Another outstanding score is the spacious "Smithlike" featuring a superb bass solo from the leader and highlighting the saxophonist on the soprano.
All is not hot and steamy however, as warm-toned solos from both guitarist and bassist bolster the light and beautiful "Midnight," one of several mid-tempo, even mellow mood pieces on the album. The enchanting "Emily's Wedding" is a perfect example of some more tasteful light jazz perfect for a relaxing setting. Perhaps as a tip of the hat to saxophonist Ellis, the closing number, appropriately titled "Ellis Island" serves as the swan song for the reed man but also includes dynamic solos from the guitarist as well as the leader.
Michael Blanco is certainly one of the young guns in the jazz scene today and with No Time Like the Present brings the background bass to the front line of jazz. Comparisons to some of the finest jazz bassist in modern jazz such as Christian McBride, John Patitucci, Gary Peacock and Charlie Haden to name a few, are inevitable. His approach and clever charts can only serve to elevate his music and cement his reputation as an excellent composer and a bassist of note.
Track Listing: Dutch Kills; No Time Like The Present; You Really Shouldn't; Midnight; RSVP; Smithlike; Emily's Wedding; Postcard (for solo bass); Ellis Island.
Personnel: Michael Blanco: bass; John Ellis: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Jonathan Kreisberg: guitar; David Cook: piano; Mark Ferber: drums.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.