Album Details

December 14, 1999
High Note
Jazz, Hard Bop

Album Review

As a performer, Blackman has been known for working with Lenny Kravitz, but as a jazz drummer/composer, she's asserting herself with each passing shot. Again utilizing a tenor sax (J.D. Allen) and rhythm section format, she's carving out a niche in the modern mainstream and fusion areas of instrumental music, showing the promise of a Tony Williams protégé to the hilt. An equal partner in this endeavor is the criminally underrated Rodney Holmes, whose outstanding piano and keyboard work sets a definite artistic tone. Peppered in here and there is Blackman's three-part, Mwandishi-like prelude/suite "The Three Van Goghs," all upbeat, free and bopping, with Holmes' Fender Rhodes and synth deliciously inviting. Another galactic swinger with siren synth voices, "Spanish Colored Romance," is more rooted and centered. Blackman also penned "Ballad Like" and "Sword of the Painter," the former an ethereal, relaxed swinger with heavy modal piano, the latter with a long introductory drum solo leading to an inexorable, behemoth four-note ostinato head with Allen's snarling tenor. Holmes contributed two pieces: "My Isha" is a straight bopper with a tiny melody and smaller bridge which collapses into brief free-for-all bashes, with everyone taking turns; and "Beautiful World" has a bit brighter, easier swing, with Blackman impatiently (like Williams) doubling the time under the piano solo. Allen brings "Mudee Ya" to the session, a loose kinetic bopper with stalking, chameleonic piano and Coltrane-ish, almost Arabic, wild, heavy overtones from Allen. There are three standards; two -- "My Ship" and "April In Paris" -- are similarly unique in their dark, obtuse, oblique stance to the original melodies and harmonic variations, while the reinvented "Green Dolphin Street" has haunting, chiming piano amidst delicate drums and cymbals and wafting tenor. It's not at all a standard take, but quite singularly bold and a beautiful step to take in reharmonizing this well-worn evergreen. Blackman, more than a timekeeper but less a melodist (like Max Roach), thankfully continues to grow and not sell out to more overtly commercial considerations. Her desire to be a jazz player is clear, and she's making strong inroads to being a formidable bandleader as well.
Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Green Dolphin Street
  2. Mudee Ya
  3. My Isha
  4. The Three Van Goghs-1
  5. Spanish Colored Romance
  6. Ballad Like
  7. My Ship
  8. April in Paris
  9. Beautiful World
  10. The Three Van Goghs-2
  11. Sword of the Painter
  12. The Three Van Goghs-3
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