Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mike Clark - Blueprints of Jazz Vol. 1 (Talking House Records, 2008)

Drummer Mike Clark kicks off an interesting series of records on a new label that is also releasing records from fellow veterans like Billy Harper and Donald Bailey. This disc has a nice engaging swing feel, like older recordings by Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers or Horace Silver's groups in the 50's and 60's. Clark is joined by Christian McBride on bass, Patrice Rushen on piano, Christian Scott on trumpet, Donald Harrison on alto saxophone and Jed Levy on tenor saxophone. The drumming is crisp and keeps everyone in the pocket, supplying the strong and deep groove that is critical in successful hard bop jazz. "In the House" and "Like That" begin the album with swinging uptempo hard bop songs while "10th Ave. 1957" slows to a bluesy simmer. "Past Lives" has deep and potent saxophone solos with strong and supple drumming. "Thanks Len" is a strutting swinger with a rippling piano solo and elastic bass solo buoyed by riffing horns. "Loft Funk" brings the Silver like gritty funk with a strong trumpet solo and propulsive piano and drums, and grinding tenor solo. "Clark Kent" features Scott with a mild and well controlled trumpet spotlight. "Conchita's Dance" has strong hard bop riffing, a strong tenor saxophone solo taking charge, then a nice full piano interlude. "I Want to Talk About You" is a beautiful ballad with a wonderful Coltrane inspired tenor saxophone melody statement and solo and is a masterful highlight, Levy really makes a strong statement here. This is a very patient and thoughtful album, and shows that modern hard bop and mainstream jazz in general still has plenty of room for innovation and exploration.
Blueprints Of Jazz Vol. 1 - amazon.com

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