Joe Blessett is a rarity in many ways. First off, Blessett has written and recorded nine albums but does not perform live. Secondly, Blessett is a multi-instrumentalist is blurring the lines of traditional jazz, pop and R&B. Not simply satisfied with the stolid art form that jazz has become, Blessett borrows from the past to pay for the future while creating sounds that are new and interesting. Blessett plays all of the instruments on his albums, and has even branched out into the realm of electronic music for sounds and accents to complete the musical visions in his head. Blessett most recent effort, Changing Everything, continues on a journey to something new.
Blessett kicks things off with the title track, a feverish number featuring saxophone, bass and percussion. "Seduction of a Dream" works a slow funk into the bass line as backdrop to an expansive saxophone lead. Blessett finds a quiet groove on "Necessary Drama", a delicious little mix of jazz and soul that picks you up and carries you along. Progressive measures are taken on "Giving It", with Blessett interpolating some spacey urban sounds into the mix. A truly special conversation occurs in "Talking to Miles", with Blessett and his band showing real finesse.
“Thank You” finds Blessett playing it safe with radio-friendly light jazz backed by a light dance beat. This is among the most compact and easy flowing pieces on the album, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear this track on commercial jazz radio. Likewise “It’s Been Fun”, which mines the mild electro-dance scene for environment while keeping jazz roots through the saxophone lead. With “White Roses”, Blessett crosses more fully into the electro/dance realm, this time accenting the electro with jazz accents.
Blessett once again pays tribute to the trumpeting style of Miles Davis on “Miles”, playing a quietly aggressive lead with a guitar co-lead that’s dynamic yet subtle. This is a high point for Blessett, one of the better compositions on the album. He carries on to the edge of jazz for the plodding but progressive “Defining Change”, with sax and trumpet screaming for attention, often over one another. This is more a cacophony of sounds than a composition, but will appeal to fans of non-linear music. Back from the edge, Blessett explores more classic/contemporary territory on “I Love You”, fueled by a classic R&B backbeat and a Kenny G-esque sax lead.
Changing Everything is more about what you expect out of Jazz. Blessett creates on a palette both rare and refined, cross musical boundaries at a whim and whipping up combinations that are different, progressive, unique and yes, sometimes uncomfortable. At the same time, he retains respect for the classics, and is equally able to produce commercial consumable jazz from most any generation. Changing Everything lives up to its name and then some. Blessett is all about rebirth, renewal and in the end, pure creation.
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