Ron Blake - Shayari (3 stars)

Ron Blake - Shayari

(Mack Avenue Records)


American saxophonist Ron Blake is most likely to be familiar to UK-based listeners through his work with trumpeter Roy Hargrove and bassist Christian McBride. His third album as a leader finds him in generally pensive mood on a series of intricate and reflective collaborations.

The basic format for the disc centres on an empathic dialogue with pianist Michael Cain, but only two tracks are actually duets. One additional player is featured on each of the remaining eleven selections.

‘Atonement’ and Bobby Hutcherson’s ‘Teddy’ bring a welcome rise in tempo and temperature. Christian McBride guests on the latter, and on one other track, while violinist Regina Carter is featured on ‘Of Kindred Souls’. Drum maestro Jack DeJohnette adds his signature touch to five, and percussionist Gilmar Gomes is on three. Blake’s playing on tenor is never short on interest, and the interplay among the musicians is consistently refined.

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