Hugely celebrated as a drummer, Brian Blade has never really received his due as a composer and bandleader. If Season of Changes changes anything, let it be that. The new album arrives 10 years after the Fellowship’s eponymous debut and ends an eight-year gap since Perceptual, the band’s 2000 sophomore release. At 46 minutes, it’s the shortest of the three Fellowship outings thus far, a relief at a time when overlong CDs are common. Blade and pianist/coproducer Jon Cowherd deliver this long-awaited dose of sound poetry with the intact Perceptual lineup, save for pedal steel player Dave Easley. The septet has shrunk to a sextet, and something in the band’s aural fingerprint is lost, though guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel fills the gaps with expansive lyricism and searing solos, particularly on Cowherd’s two pieces, “Season of Changes” and “Return of the Prodigal Son.” (Blade has omitted guitar altogether on some recent live gigs.)
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