Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Brian Blade Crawls Out From A Cave Somewhere, Releases Killin' Album

There are certain artists who I like to think of as the Osama Bin Ladens of the jazz world (I'm sorry, that was irrelevant, but I thought it was funny); not because they have a tendency to commit terrible acts of terrorism that harm people, but because they manage to toil as sidemen for years, only surfacing after long periods of hiding to release relatively short, taped records of their existence. Brian Blade's new "Season of Changes," like Kurt Rosenwinkel's recent "The Remedy" or James Carter's "Present Tense," is one of those recordings- and the fact that this is Blade's first album in eight years is only proof that it's the biggest news to come out since Bin Laden's latest video surfaced (or at least since one of the two democrats- I can't tell the difference between them in terms of policy- clinched victory last night). Alright, maybe it isn't that newsworthy. But it should be news to anyone who enjoys contemporary jazz.

"Season of Changes" has such a killer band that I barely even need to write a review of the record: Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar, Myron Walden (alto) and Melvin Butler (tenor) on saxes, John Cowherd on piano, and Blade himself on drums. I may as well go through some of the highlights of each player's work on the album though, as so much of the playing on this album is good. Rosenwinkel's solo on "Return of the Prodigal Son" is pure Rosenwinkel; a knotty web of ideas and motifs that fit together brilliantly. Waldren's bass clarinet work on "Improvisation" manages to be violent, avant-garde, in your face, and beautiful all at the same time. Melvin Butler (whose own work I do not know well enough but have been inspired to check out due to this record) plays an interesting Albert-Ayler-by-way-of-Micheal-Brecker solo on "Stoner Hill." Blade, the man himself, provides a brilliant backbeat for everything, and Cowherd wrote the episodic title track.

The only problem with this album is that no one player has enough time to truly shine (the band is a septet; although I mentioned each member's work, there just wasn't enough room on the album to fit in as much solo space as I would have liked), a serious issue when the per capita talent in a band is as strong as in this one. Perhaps it would have been better if Blade had released a double album (the logical solution Dave Holland came up with years back with "Extended Play" and that Rosenwinkel himself worked out of "The Remedy"), but I suppose "this band is so good that I wish there was more music" is hardly a legitimate complaint. Hopefully Blade will have more time in the near future to devote time to his own work, but with the amount of sideman work he does (seriously, he's in Chris Potter/ Dave Douglas/ Larry Grenadier territory here) chances are he won't come out with another album for a while. Here's hoping Bin Laden's next record ("Osama Bin Singin' the Cole Porter Songbook?") doesn't come out first. Recommended.

As always, I'm living day to day with this blog, so I have no idea what I'm reviewing next time. Also, I'd like to apologize for this being the third day since my most recent post. But you should be honored by my lateness ("Like I'd even show up fa this fake shit..." sorry, couldn't help it). Feel free to comment if you think that a comparison between Brian Blade and Osama Bin Laden isn't warranted, or if you like Blade's album, or if you just love this blog.


Trash Mammal said...

killin'? bumpin'?

how about: so and so's new album is huggin'?
something less violent, please!

and you should totally review scarlett johansson's 'anywhere i lay my head' and frequent tom waits cohort marc ribot's new record in a joint review.

now that would be huggin'.

Trash Mammal said...

p.s. here's pitchfork's review of marc ribot's new record:

and you thought 'tragicomic' was worse than panda bear!

Trash Mammal said...

p.p.s. add my site to your links/blogroll