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Bell Wether

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Bell Wether album cover
Danye me home
A beleza que vem
The song that lives inside
Minor celebrity
String quartet in g minor opus 10
Album Information

Total Tracks: 7   Total Length: 61:01

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They Say All Music Guide

Seamus Blake continues to make quality recordings that are about as consistent as any modern jazz tenor saxophonist in the business. Within the boundaries of the neo-bop style the Criss Cross label favors, Blake and his band present more of his original music that to certain degrees pushes the envelope ever so slightly. This is pretty much the same band — with the inclusion of Australian-born bassist Matt Clohesy — that produced Blake’s acclaimed CD Way Out Willy from 2007. Guitarist Lage Lund works closely in tandem alongside Blake on most of these selections, offering a sound that is hard to resist, and easy to love. With peerless drummer Bill Stewart and the masterful pianist Dave Kikoski, Blake and his mates can do very little wrong. And it is not so much that Blake is coming into his own as a composer — he’s always been pretty good — but there’s something about the pairing of Vancouver, Canada’s Blake with Norwegian native Lund that turns chilled bodies of melody into vivid, warm refrains. The title track is a great example of how the tenor saxophonists steady-handed approach is turned out from Michael Brecker’s visage into something all his own. The fact that Blake played violin in his younger days goes a long way in explaining why he’s comfortable with interpreting Claude Debussy’s “String Quartet in G Minor, Opus 10″ on soprano sax alongside Kikoski’s pastoral, patient musings. Then there’s the tender ballad “The Song That Lives Inside” which could be a reinterpretation of “I Concentrate On You,” one of the more beautiful and heartfelt ballads from anyone in recent times. But in the long run, Blake is a masterful, thoughtful player in the well-past-hard-to-post-bop idiom, stringing together serpentine lines with Lund as if they were truly one instrumentalist. The road song “A Beleza Que Vem” is less Latin jazz, although Stewart’s insistent-turned-stick clicks might imply to the contrary, while the highlight track of the album, “Minor Celebrity,” has the kinetic, jumpy, spiky kind of sound that leaps forth from the speakers, and has one begging for more. John Scofield’s “Dance Me Home” also made the cut on this recording as the opener, a good prelude for the remainder of the tracks in that it has a light and pretty delicacy unexpectedly subtle, and for these players, even a bit daring. It cannot be overemphasized how well this group plays together, while the international makeup of the quintet makes for an agreeable music fit in a style of music that continues to reinvent itself. This studio effort, along with the Live in Italy double-disc, both indicate Seamus Blake is not on the verge any longer, but in the prime of his career as one of the finest exponents of current-day jazz. – Michael G. Nastos

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