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Sometimes a jazz band will perform sans piano simply because the bar or hall doesn’t own one, or for a New Orleans funeral procession the reason is obvious. The choice not to record with an available piano is a conscious one. Take Ornette Coleman’s 1960 quartet, Sonny Rollins at The Village Vanguard 1957, or John Zorn’s Masada of the 1990s all elected to free themselves from the constraints of those black & white keys. I’m telling you this because Rob Blakeslee’s quartet opts for openness and the freedom. Peace. Blakeslee and Rich Halley are regular contributors to the West Coast bands of Vinny Golia and recordings from his label 9Winds. Of note are two discs they collaborated on, Halley’s Live At Beanbenders (1998) and Blakeslee’s Lifeline (1994). On Waterloo Ice House their simpatico is extended by the overtly nurturing timekeepers bassist Clyde Reed and drummer Dave Storrs. Beautifully recorded, (small labels please note) each individual musician’s sound can be recognized with a clarity Rudy Van Gelder would savor. The quartet sax/trumpet/bass/drums causes me to recall the band Old And New Dreams. Formed to play the music of Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Ed Blackwell, and Charlie Haden soon spoke with their own voices. As does Blakeslee’s Quartet. Their freedom is not without an intuitive lyricism. Fans of free jazz will be drawn to their ideas, while post-bop listeners can revel at the complete lines drawn and the group interplay.
Track List:Just What’s Written; Blinkey’s Room; Give Up The Chair; We Will Not Scream Together; The Music Of Five; Fix You Bendiks; Waterloo Ice House.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.