216

Ron Blake: Up Front and Personal

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
Up Front and Personal, tenor and soprano saxophonist Ron Blake’s long overdue debut as a leader, exhibits a healthy respect for the jazz tradition and a willingness to step into the future. The disc features Blake and a kinetic rhythm section consisting of pianist Shedrick Mitchell, bassist Reuben Rogers, and the drums and cymbals of Greg Hutchinson. This is an unusually cohesive band in which the members take obvious delight in inspiring one another. Tenor titan Johnny Griffin plays on two tracks (his “Waltswing!,” and Dexter Gordon’s “Fried Bananas”) in which the two saxophonists, rather than engaging in a cutting contest, revel in each others’ musical company and produce stirring solos.

Like all good leaders, Blake gives everyone ample opportunities to express their individual voices. Mitchell is a modern, hard-swinging pianist in the McCoy Tyner mode. Rogers and Hutchinson expertly put an insistent spin on everything from straight-ahead grooves (“Ready or Not” and “Quotatious”), to the Caribbean rhythms of Blake’s “Tom Blake” (written for his father) and “Song for Michael Carvin” (dedicated to the disc’s producer). Rogers has a lovely, full tone that stands out in all of the ensemble passages as well as his solos, and Hutchinson’s turns display logic and order that complement his aggressive stickwork and frequently convoluted rhythms.

Blake’s solos eschew gratuitous displays of chops in favor of the careful, deliberate development of ideas. He interacts with the rhythm section instead of simply playing over it, and always manages to sound relaxed even in the most heated passages. His ballad feature, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “All I Ask Of You,” is a deeply moving performance. Blake’s playing of the melody and solo slowly builds in intensity without breaking the wistful mood, somehow managing to sound both vulnerable and hopeful.

Track List:Ready Or Not; Waltz For Gwen; Waltswing!; Quotatious; Tom Blake; Fried Bananas; All I Ask Of You; Song For Michael Carvin.

Personnel: Ron Blake

| Record Label: Tahmun Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Dedication To Sylvia Rexach" CD/LP/Track Review Dedication To Sylvia Rexach
by James Nadal
Published: May 31, 2016
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Fierce Silence" CD/LP/Track Review Fierce Silence
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 4, 2016
Read "Guitar Fantasies" CD/LP/Track Review Guitar Fantasies
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: November 2, 2016
Read "On Hollywood Boulevard" CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "AHEO" CD/LP/Track Review AHEO
by James Nadal
Published: May 23, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!