Jun 24, 2019
About 18 months ago, I had a conversation with photographer Jimmy Katz, about his new non-profit project Giant Step Arts. Katz, along with his wife Dena, planned to select artists for whom they wish to stage and record premiere performances, then provide them with CDs and digital downloads of the gigs and ownership of the masters. Click here to listen to that Podcast.
The initial project came to fruition, and Trion, drummer Johnathan Blake’s 2-CD set with Linda May Han Oh on bass, and Chris Potter on tenor saxophone is here. The trio played for two nights at the Jazz Gallery in New York, and the results are top notch. Whether they are working out interesting arrangements to familiar melodies (including Potter’s flights of fancy on the Police’s “Synchronicity I”) or bending a be-bop standard like “Relaxin’ at Camarillo” to their will, these three show their abilities to dig deep and deliver the goods.
Blake has become an in-demand collaborator, playing regularly with Tom Harrell, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Kenny Barron’s groups, and garnering Grammy nominations for his recordings with the Mingus Big Band. Trion is his second album as a leader, and by continuing to surround himself with worthy foils, and he shows all signs of becoming a force to be reckoned with in the near future.
Podcast 686 is my conversation with Johnathan, as we talk about the musical influences of his father, violinist John Blake, and the making of Trion. Musical selections include "Blue Heart" and "West Berkley Street"