• Live Blog - Village Vanguard 6.18.08

    June 18, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Brian Blade Before the Set

    We have reached maximum capacity at the Vanguard tonight. Both sets are
    sold out, as is most of the week. Enjoy the show.

    9:00 First up is Ruby Lou's Lullabye. Named for Brian's niece.

    9:11 Kurt Rosenwinkel just blistered the front row with his solo on "Return
    of the Prodigal Son."

    9:17 I really love this song. Both Kurt Rosenwinkel and Melvin Butler solo

    9:20 "Stoner Hill" is a section of Shreveport, LA. Brian Blade's hometown.

    9:23 The title song from Season of Changes, the new recording from Brian
    Blade and the Fellowship Band.

    9:29 An epic, varied song. Could have easily been called "Seasons of Change."

    9:36 This song has really whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

    9:38 I love the combination of bass clarinet and harmonium. Beautiful.

    9:42 Song called "Alpha and Omega." Brian is definitely from the church.

    9:46 After a lovely intro from Rosenwinkel, we're motorboating with
    "Evinrude Fifty," from Perceptual. Their last record (2000).

    10:00  I think this is the last song.  And it's never heard before.  Until now!
    Called King's Highway.  In Shreveport.  Not Brooklyn...

  • Brian Blade: Live at the Village Vanguard

    June 18, 2008. Posted by WBGO.

    Brian Blade. (Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist)

    Widely recognized as one of the finest drummers in modern jazz — or in all of popular music, for that matter — Brian Blade directed the spotlight onto his compositional and bandleading talents when he helmed his Fellowship Band in a live performance at the Village Vanguard, broadcast live on air by WBGO and live online at NPR Music.

    Blade's band began much as their new record Season of Changes does, performing the first four tracks in the order in which they begin the album, before branching deeper into their repertoire and ending with a new, unrecorded composition. On full display were the shifting moods, pastoral textures and elegant soloing with which the Fellowship Band has distinguished itself for over a decade. Their intricate music ebbed and flowed, yielding broad spaces for tasteful improvisation bookended by cathartic climaxes or meditative themes. The sextet deployed a wide range of tone colors, from open-sounding guitar sustains to clamorous cymbal work to duets for bass clarinet and pump organ.

    The members of the Fellowship coalesce around the writing of Blade and keyboard player Jon Cowherd; the long-standing rapport of the ensemble ensures that Blade and Cowherd can work with specific voices and collective expression in mind. A thoroughly modern jazz band, the Fellowship is no neo-classical hard bop ensemble; it openly seeks emotive power in sinuous lyricism, open voicings, and the guitar twang of country and folk music. Behind it all is the subtly virtuosic rhythmic finesse on which Blade has made his name.

    Having soaked up the musical lessons of his native Louisiana, Blade first emerged on the national jazz landscape in the 1990s amid talented peers such as Brad Mehldau and Joshua Redman. As his generation of young lions turned into the standard-bearers of contemporary jazz, his talents also have garnered him frequent appearances and recordings with legends like Wayne Shorter. Blade hasn't limited himself to jazz alone; he has played on records with Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan, among others.

    As the leader of the Fellowship Band, Blade was first able to document his compositions on 1998's critically acclaimed Brian Blade Fellowship, produced by Daniel Lanois. It was followed by the equally beloved Perceptual in 2000. Eight years later, Blade's long-awaited third album Season of Changes was released this spring.