Seamus Blake - Live In Italy

album review

Jazz Eyes

Release date: March 2nd 2009

Availability: CD, MP3 Download

Seamus Blake: Live In Italy cover

This double CD of the Seamus Blake quartet recorded live on a tour of Italy in 2007 is one of the most vibrant albums of the year. The partnership with David Kikoski that featured on the Concord release 'Way Out Willy' of the same year has been retained but there is no guitar seat and the bass and drums slots have been changed so that the band is now: - Seamus Blake (tenor sax), David Kikoski (piano), Danton Boller (bass), Rodney Green (drums).

Three of the Seamus Blake compositions from 'Way Out Willy' – the title track, "The Jupiter Line" and "Fear Of Roaming" – appear on the live album in extended versions. There is also the David Kikoski original "Spacing". The playing on these cuts is exceptional with both Seamus Blake and David Kikoski delivering some of their best recorded performances. Breathtaking, inventive runs deliver full value in the extended space of the live performances.

Don't be concerned about Seamus Blake's occasional use of electronic effects in his sax playing. It is a feature of the track "Way Out Willy" where the mirroring of a wah-wah pedal guitar sound is appropriate to the upbeat jollity of the tune. Elsewhere, he uses the effects very sparingly, for example on the opener "The Jupiter Line", to suggest some additional texture. That's it, really; the remainder of the almost two hours of music is full on acoustic sax.

The non-original material is full of interest. There are wonderful interpretations of Duke Ellington's "The Meaning of Jazz" and of the Van Huesen/DeLange standard "Darn That Dream". The Brazilian composer Djavan's "Ladeirinha" is also featured, as is a long and moody take on the second movement of Claude Debussey's "String Quartet in G Minor".

The disc ends with a rollicking take on John Scofield's "Dance Me Home".

Danton Boller on bass and Rodney Green on drums combine well with the two principals to showcase a tight, inventive band that is clearly relishing the opportunities presented of honing their sound and performance on the tour.

A clear candidate for best jazz album of the year.

(Check out the very competitive price of the MP3 version – an out and out bargain for jazz of this quality and scope).

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