Saxophonists Seamus Blake and Chris Cheek are both into their third decades as professional musicians. Their working relationship goes back to the early-90s when Cheek was a member of Blake's "alternative grunge jazz" band The Bloomdaddies. On Reeds Ramble (the title is borrowed from a tune written by guitarist Jerry Reed) the two men lead a quintet on a selection of tunes ranging from Elmo Hope's upbeat "De Dah" to Brian Wilson's oddly unsettling "'Til I Die," with one original each from the saxophonists.
Blake and Cheek have brought together a tremendous rhythm section, which includes The Bad Plus' pianist Ethan Iverson, James Farm bassist Matt Penman and drummer Jochen Rueckert. The three players are consistently excellentalthough their playing on Blake's "All About Me" (based on the "All Of Me" changes) and Chico Buarque's "Na Carreira" deserves special mention, especially Iverson's cascading runs on the final section of Blake's tune.
Special mention should also go to "Lady In Langour." Atmospherically, it sounds like a '40s classic ballad yet it's a contemporary tune written by Canadian composer Vickie Yang, who Blake has worked with on a variety of projects. Instrumentally it features fine performances from each musician and some of the album's most intriguing harmonieswith Iverson in the band, there's some stiff competition for that particular accolade.
The real joy of Reeds Ramble is in hearing the tenor saxophones togetherin unison, trading phrases, firing off each other's ideas. On "Na Carreira" the twin tenors attack the tune from the off, chasing each other with a real sense of fun, driven by Rueckert's brushed drums. On "I Surrender Dear" they're laid back, almost lazy in places. The feeling is delightfully relaxed. "All About Me" features the pair in rip-roaring bebop mode, while the slinky groove of Eddie Harris' 7/4 "1974 Blues" gives the pair a chance to stretch out on their solos.
Na Carreira; 1974 Blues; Holodeck Waltz; Blue Moose; De Dah; 'Til I Die; I Surrender Dear; All About Me; Lady In Languor.
Seamus Blake: tenor saxophone; Chris Cheek: soprano saxophone (3), tenor saxophone; Ethan Iverson: piano; Matt Penman: bass; Jochen Rueckert: drums.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.