Johnathan Blake: Trion

Karl Ackermann By

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A journeyman drummer with over fifty album credits, Johnathan Blake has long associations with Tom Harrell and Kenny Barron and has appeared with Oliver Lake, Roy Hargrove, Alex Sipiagin, Donny McCaslin, Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital and many other well-known artists. His previous outings as leader were The Eleventh Hour (Sunnyside, 2012) and Gone, But Not Forgotten (Criss Cross Jazz, 2014). Blake's chordless trio with tenor saxophonist Chris Potter and bassist Linda May Han Oh presents Trion, a work of considerable energy and fun.

For a saxophonist who has never been "showy," Potter is frequently a highlight of whatever show he is part of. Along with almost two dozen releases as a leader he has recorded multiple times with Dave Holland, Dave Douglas, David Binney, Paul Motian, the Mingus Big Band and Pat Metheny. He is a powerhouse but one with sophistication. Linda May Han Oh is lightly recorded at this point but her impact is apparent in the numerous awards she has collected in the past ten years. Born to parents of Chinese descent, she grew up in Australia, studying classical music and piano, but her tastes are eclectic and led her to jazz.

This double-disc set was recorded live at New York's Jazz Gallery in 2018; each disc opening with a relatively short drum solo. Potter flutters into the Police classic, "Synchronicity 1," here reimagined as a sixteen-minute workout, Sting's hit barely recognizable in this visceral treatment. "Good Hope," a Potter composition, is a another long, blistering piece that allows each member ample opportunities to express themselves. Oh takes an extended solo on the introduction to her composition "Trope," one of a few mid-tempo pieces in a set dominated by cookers. Other changes of pace come from the blues-laced numbers "No Bebop Daddy" and "West Berkley St."

Potter's tenor often dominates the proceedings but there is a strong emphasis on interplay throughout Trion. The three musicians have worked together occasionally and their ability to hear each other in some of the more uninhibited improvisations, is impressive. The set, even at its most mercurial, never comes off the track and Blake controls the always flowing dialogue with a deft touch. Highly recommended.

Track Listing

CD 1:
Calodendrum; Synchronicity 1; Trope (Linda Intro); Trope; One for Honor; High School Daze; No Bebop Daddy.
CD 2:
Bedrum; Good Hope; Eagle; Relaxing at the Camarillo; Blue Heart; West Berkley St.


Johnathan Blake: drums; Chris Potter: tenor saxophone; Linda May Han Oh: bass.

Album information

Title: Trion | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Giant Step Arts



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