(photo credit: Courtesy)
Over the last couple of decades, 40-year-old British-born Canadian saxophonist
Seamus Blake has made a name for himself as one of the most adventurous and
dependable jazzmen around. Next week (February 21-26) he will perform here with
longtime cohort, drummer Rodney Green, together with two New York-based Israeli
musicians, guitarist Assaf Kehati and bass player Noam Weisenberg.
hard to keep up with all Blake’s artistic endeavors. He is just as at home
playing straight-ahead modern jazz as mixing it with funky groovedriven acts. He
first came to notice while still a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston
when veteran drummer Victor Lewis spotted his talent and asked Blake to join him
on a recording.
By the age of 23 Blake felt ready to put out a record of
his own and, a year later, the prestigious label Criss Cross released his debut
album, The Call. Since then, he has put out five more CDs under his own name and
collaborated with scores of other musicians as a sideman.
terrain stretches from lyrical bebop explorations to his work with the
Bloomdaddies band, which has been described as a “funky, alternative grunge jazz
band that employed electronic effects.”
Although Blake will play solely
on tenor saxophone here, he devotes much of this time to examining the
possibilities offered by electronic instrumental enhancement and also plays
electronic wind instrument (EWI), which is something of a cross between a
plugged-in flute and saxophone.
In 2002 Blake won the prestigious
Thelonious Monk jazz competition which, besides the kudos and cash prize, gave
him the opportunity to perform with jazz icons saxophonist Wayne Shorter and
pianistkeyboardist Herbie Hancock.
Meanwhile, Green started playing drums
almost as soon as he was big enough to hold drumsticks in his hands. His father
was a preacherorganist and his mother sang in church, and young Green began
drumming from the age of three.
He received his first formal training at
the age of 14 from percussionist Scott Robinson, who took Green under his wing
and taught him for free. His musical education was extended by an older cousin
who introduced him to the delights of albums such as A Love Supreme by legendary
saxophonist John Coltrane, as well as funk and soul music.
Green hit the
New York jazz scene at 17 and was soon gainfully employed by all manner of
bandleaders, including trumpeter Tom Harrell, pianist Mulgrew Miller and stellar
vocalists Diana Krall and Abbey Lincoln.
During their six gigs next week,
the quartet will play a wide range of material written by such artists Monk,
Duke Ellington, Coltrane and Kenny Barron, who played at the first Red Sea
Winter Jazz Festival in Eilat last month, as well as some original material
written by Blake.
The Seamus Blake-Rodney Green Quartet will play at the
Einan Auditorium in Modi’in on February 21 at 9 p.m., Gerard Behar Center in
Jerusalem on February 22 at 9 p.m., Zappa Club in Herzliya on February 23 (doors
open 8:30 p.m., show starts 10 p.m.), Tel Aviv Museum on February 24 and 25 at 9
p.m. and 8:30 p.m. respectively, and at Abba Hushi House in Haifa on February 26
at 9 p.m.