Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Oliver Lake - The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint and Soul Note (Black Saint/Soul Note, 2013)

Alto saxophonist Oliver Lake has been one of the most talented yet underrated musicians of the post-Coltrane era. He is a charter member of the influential collectives The Black Artists Group and The World Saxophone Quartet, and lately the exciting group Trio 3. This collection focuses on the work he did as a bandleader for the Italian record labels Black Saint and Soul Note in the 1980’s and 90’s. The legendary musician Eric Dolphy is a huge influence on Lake’s playing and this is evidenced here on all the albums but especially the tribute albums Dedicated to Dolphy and The Prophet. On these you get to hear how he interprets Dolphy’s music, whether the angular “Hat and Beard” and “The Prophet” or the gentler “Miss Ann” and “Something Sweet, Something Tender.” Lake moves beyond being a mere acolyte, using the open mindedness of Dolphy’s music as a blueprint for the development of his own unique sound. The other albums on this collection are diverse and showcase Lake’s ability as a composer and improviser on a wide range of settings from the spare experimental duet with pianist Borah Bergman called A New Organization to the excellent small band session Expandable Language which uses piano and guitar along with bass and drums to develop a fully integrated sound. This is an excellent collection and it serves as a wake-up call to those who may have slept on these records the first time. Lake came up during a period where progressive jazz had a difficult time gaining purchase in the USA, and his travelling to Europe and beyond allowed him to display his skills in a wide variety of contexts. He is more active than ever these days, taking part in a Dolphy retrospective in Montclair in addition to an upcoming big band feature and week long residency at the Stone this fall. The Complete Remastered Recordings -

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