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June 1998

Brian Blade
Brian Blade Fellowship
Blue Note Records

When word came out that drummer Brian Blade was about to record as a leader, the anticipation was for something divergent. Given his uniquely slashing drum style and uncanny skills with the cymbals, his quiet, thoughtful countenance, and his capacious resume-including Joshua Redman, Kenny Garrett and forthcoming Wayne Shorter, to Joni Mitchell, Daniel Lanois and Bob Dylan-Blade has developed into an unusual member of his 20-something generation of jazz musicians. What has resulted is a sumptuous impressionistic recording conveyed by a band he aptly dubs a Fellowship.

Earnestly spiritual, though not in an outwardly prayerful sense, Blade discovers music in found elements, in environmental scenes experienced, and in the seeming simplicities of life. The Fellowship includes two saxophones, guitar, piano and keyboard, pedal steel guitar and cameos from Lanois on mando guitar (notable fellows are Myron Walden on alto sax and bassist Christopher Thomas). Blade forges many of the disparate musical elements that have thus far graced his career throughout, and on the track "Folklore" even invokes the Pygmies. Far from your usual debut disc.

Originally published in June 1998
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