95

Johnathan Blake: The Eleventh Hour

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
Johnathan Blake: The Eleventh Hour The health of an organism is its ability to reproduce and a fine example of jazz's continued vitality is heard on drummer Johnathan Blake's The Eleventh Hour. The debut's excellence comes as no surprise, though. This son of violinist John Blake Jr is already carving his name as a young rhythmic dynamo whose growing credits include work with the Mingus Big Band, trumpeter Tom Harrell and guitarist Russell Malone.

With a frenzied schedule of gigs on other artists' projects, Blake has found time to lead his own band, documented here with an extremely hot quintet of longtime associates, including the supreme sax duo of Mark Turner and Jaleel Shaw, bassist Ben Street and newcomer to the group, pianist Kevin Hayes. Add flavorful guests such harmonicist Gregoire Maret and pianist Robert Glasper on Fender Rhodes to the all-star roster and the delayed release (originally completed in 2010) has plenty of potential. But to put a twist on an iconic saying "The names don't mean a thing if the music ain't got that swing," this is definitely not the case for this extraordinary debut.

Blake's two opening pieces are formidable. The title track opens with a lo-fi drum intro, and then unfolds with a nimble groove featuring harmonica and keyboard accents, plus beautiful serpentine solos from Turner and Maret. Blake works masterfully with stylish rim shots and flurried scissoring, always adding a creative stamp to the process. "Rio's Dream" has a nice melodic hook with spiraling harmonies, Hayes' searching piano work, and Shaw's fiery proclamation. The pieces not only have stylistic impetus but also leave memorable songlike imprints.

The question of whether or not the music swings is answered in Harrell's bopping "Blue News," where the trumpeter also contributes his glowing horn and the soloists freely explore, as Blake's kit and Street's walking bass line hold the rhythm tight. Blake also affirms this characteristic via his own writing skills on "Of Things To Come," with another exhausting cadence and detailed changes attributed to his early training on piano and violin.

Unusual avenues are traveled in "No Left Turn," with its thought-provoking pacing and alluring yet abstract qualities, as is "Clues," a deconstructed take on Thelonious Monk's "Evidence" where Blake trades blistering beats within an already difficult tempo. The music ends with Glasper's "Canvas," the essence of soulfulness and modernism as Glasper and Maret exchange intricate ideas. Blake's The Eleventh Hour might have been delayed but the music is right on time.

Track Listing: The Eleventh Hour; Rio's Dream; Blue News; Dexter's Tune; Time To Kill; Of Things To Come; Freefall; No Left Turn; Clues; Canvas.

Personnel: Johnathan Blake: drums; Mark Turner: tenor saxophone (1-4, 6-10); Jaleel Shaw: alto saxophone (1, 2, 5-7, 9); Ben Street: bass; Kevin Hayes: piano, Fender Rhodes (2-4, 7-9); Gregoire Maret: harmonica (1, 10); Robert Glasper: piano; Fender Rhodes (1, 5, 10); Timothy Warfield: tenor saxophone (8); Tom Harrell (3, 5).

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Nigerian Spirit CD/LP/Track Review Nigerian Spirit
by James Nadal
Published: May 29, 2017
Read The Colours Suite CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960 CD/LP/Track Review Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Chapter Five CD/LP/Track Review Chapter Five
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 28, 2017
Read The Hive CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "No Filter" CD/LP/Track Review No Filter
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 11, 2017
Read "Blooming Tall Phlox" CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "Shapes" CD/LP/Track Review Shapes
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 24, 2016
Read "Brasil L.I.K.E" CD/LP/Track Review Brasil L.I.K.E
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 30, 2016
Read "Confirmation" CD/LP/Track Review Confirmation
by Nicola Negri
Published: September 5, 2016
Read "Song of the Free Will" CD/LP/Track Review Song of the Free Will
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 16, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!