411

Seamus Blake: Way Out Willy

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Seamus Blake: Way Out Willy It's been six years since Seamus Blake's last recording for Criss Cross, and the tenor saxophonist wasn't thinking about a new one until approached in 2006 by label owner/producer Gerry Teekens. The result, Way Out Willy, has the spontaneous feel of a session more focused on improvisation than composition.

That's not to say the six Blake originals are anything but thoroughly engaging. But in a time where his contemporaries are often approaching the modern mainstream through more complex compositional constructs, Blake's writing is more concise. With the exception of the burning modal 5/4 "Badlands and the broodingly expansive 9/4 "Hoi Polloi there are no irregular or shifting meters to be found, nor are there any long-form episodic pieces.

With compositions ranging from the insistently swinging "Fear of Roaming to the gently lyrical "Trust in You, the rhythm-heavy title track, or the simmering "The Jupiter Line, it ultimately all comes down to the players. With guitarist Lage Lund and pianist Dave Kikoski, Blake has two strong foils, capable of exploring improvisational possibilities at length without losing focus or sense of purpose. Drummer Bill Stewart (the "Willy in "Way Out Willy ) is as elastic, responsive and melodic as ever, while bassist Orlando LeFleming—best known for his work with singer Jane Monheit—demonstrates a side to him that's rarely been heard on record.

Blake, still in his mid-thirties, is a powerful player possessing that rare ability to develop lengthy solos that are both visceral and cerebral. Few artists are capable of delivering near-perfection every time but Blake is one of them, with nary a misstep here and a consistent ability to create a clear narrative with every solo.

Kikoski, with nearly twenty appearances on Criss Cross as a leader or sideman, is the closest thing to a label house pianist. His own Limits (2006) was an album of great conversational depth, and he brings that same aesthetic to this date. Working with another chordal instrument, in this case Lund, is always a challenge but the two are never anything but complimentary.

As unequivocally strong as everyone is on the date, it's Lund who stands out, if only because he's a younger player with a small but increasingly significant discography that includes Marcus Strickland's Twi-Life (Strick Muzik, 2006) and two superb guest spots on trumpeter Ingrid Jensen's At Sea (ArtistShare, 2006). Like Blake and Kikoski, Lund is a master of construction, with a warm tone that's reminiscent of Pat Metheny, but far less processed. His solo on "The Jupiter Line, in particular, builds in intensity through use of repeated motifs that gradually lead from one place to the next in logical but exciting fashion.

Way Out Willy is an unassuming and thoroughly satisfying set filled with improvisational prowess that's never superfluous. Blake's strength as a writer is his ability to create a diverse set of contexts that encourage the many strengths of everyone involved.


Track Listing: Fear of Roaming; Badlands; Trust in You; Way Out Willy; Hoi Polloi; The Jupiter Line.

Personnel: Seamus Blake: tenor saxophone; Lage Lund: guitar; David Kikoski: piano; Orlando LeFleming: bass; Bill Stewart: drums.

Title: Way Out Willy | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Criss Cross


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review Vol. 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Meeting My Shadow CD/LP/Track Review Meeting My Shadow
by James Nadal
Published: July 22, 2017
Read No Secrets No Lies CD/LP/Track Review No Secrets No Lies
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 22, 2017
Read 50 CD/LP/Track Review 50
by Doug Collette
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Day After Day CD/LP/Track Review Day After Day
by John Eyles
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "South Beat" CD/LP/Track Review South Beat
by Edward Blanco
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "Rhythm and Romance" CD/LP/Track Review Rhythm and Romance
by Jeff Winbush
Published: August 12, 2016
Read "Third Stage of Elegance" CD/LP/Track Review Third Stage of Elegance
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 6, 2017
Read "Chapter Five" CD/LP/Track Review Chapter Five
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "Wake Up Call" CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Chronosome" CD/LP/Track Review Chronosome
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 24, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!