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Bassist Alex Blake, though an experienced virtuoso, has released only two records under his own name. Now Is The Time is his first disc released outside Japan. It's not as if Blake hasn't been around the block: he toured with Sun Ra at the age of 16, and has recently been working with Randy Weston and Pharoah Sanders.
Now Is The Time documents a recent show at the Knitting Factory, and it retains a very dynamic "live" feel. Blake's quintet recalls the energy and fluidity of '60s jazz. It dwells largely within fixed harmonic constraints, but toys endlessly with the possibilities available to soloists. Sanders, of course, is a veteran of that era, and he performs a dual purpose in the group: articulately delivering melodic lines and also taking regular voyages "out" into overblown harmonic space. Blake himself largely divides his energy between exceptionally fluid walking basslines and virtuostic soloing (occasionally accompanied by Jarrett-esque vocalizations).
In fact, one of the most attractive features of Now is the way the music can turn on a dime between swinging bop, free jazz, and jazz-rock fusion. Musical literacy is not an issue here: occasional nods to the canon abound. For example, "On the Spot" builds off the first five notes of Coltrane's "Giant Steps" and takes the theme in an entirely different direction. Don't go into Now without an open ear for surprise and humorthese are serious musicians, but they aren't afraid to play around a bit.
Track Listing: On the Spot; The Chief (intro--Neil Clark); The Chief; With a Little Help; Now Is The Time (intro--Alex Blake); Now Is The Time; Mystery of Love.
Personnel: Alex Blake, bass; Pharoah Sanders: saxophone; John Hicks, piano; Victor Jones, drums; Neil Clark, percussion.
I love jazz because it’s what sounds
I was first exposed to jazz in my
parents household and in school
I appreciate many styles of jazz
and shy away from really outside
stuff. I enjoy relating to the
One of the best shows I ever
attended was 1975 Chick Corea’s
Return To Forever tour at an
intimate venue in downtown
The first jazz record I bought was
Herbie Hancock’s Chameleon.
My advice to new listeners is try
several styles before you decide
what jazz is all about!
Listen to music daily and stay open