As a long-term fan of American jazz drummer Brian Blade, I have to admit that I’ve been waiting for this new record for a long time. His last effort for the Blue Note with his fellow companions, Landmarks, dated 2014. But despite the relatively high expectations I had, I could not imagine falling in love with his new work from the first notes of the first track on the record. Body and Shadow, the last work released by Blade with the Fellowship Band, it’s something so beautiful and unique that it literally takes your breath away. This is a music with no reference, no original model: it is pure poetry that the musicians play spontaneously, leaving aside technical virtuosities and conceptualisms, which in any case they would not have any problem to use given their pedigree.
The adjectives that comes to mind thinking of the jazz played by the musicians on this record are “soft” and “sweet“. In fact, the music proceeds in this album without angularities: we have sounds, melodies, and harmonies played with care and with delicacy, melodies that manage to touch the most intimate strings of the soul. But be aware, delicacy and softness here do not mean lack of emotions. Instead, this is a clear manifestation of musical leadership and a group of musicians who have played together for years and years. They show an impressive capacity to self-synchronize their sounds and a level of self-awareness that makes all the ensemble tuned and compact. And what has been said at the overall level is also true for the drumming of Brian Blade. His touch is never heavy or above the other instruments.
Always putting spirituality above improvisation, Brian Blade and The Fellowship Band connects to listeners in a way uncommon for jazz musicians, and Body And Shadow continues a remarkable consistency of mission and quality spanning two decades. (Something Else!)
For the records, this is the fifth album from Brian Blade and his Fellowship Band, and it arrives as the ensemble celebrates 20 years of playing together.
Body and Shadow is Blade’s fifth CD with this band, whose regular members include saxists Myron Walden and Melvin Butler, pianist/keyboardist Jon Cowherd, and bassist Chris Thomas. The novelty here is guitarist Dave Devine, a sure-footed Denver-based rock guru, who makes his debut in the group after Daniel Lanois, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Marvin Sewell, and Jeff Parker have occupied the position in the past. (Jazztrail)
The album was released on November 10, 2017, by Blue Note Records.