Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Oliver Lake Quartet: Live

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Today I saw an even-slicker-than-usual Wynton Marsalis hawking iPods, laying out lines of boppish exactitude for the conspicuous consumption of moneyed hipsters. It’s the 21st century, baby. Even in jazz, surface is all. Blood and guts are so 1979.

Oliver Lake might disagree.

Lake’s latest reminds us that perfection is overrated. Vulnerability is the magic ingredient separating the ultracompetent from the truly visionary. On this-a casually recorded live date from 2001 with a quartet that includes bassist Santi Debriano, drummer Gene Lake and vocalist/wood flutist Mary Redhouse-Lake burns with the combination of skill, swagger and sensitivity that characterizes his generation of top-rank jazz musicians.

The tunes (mostly Lake originals) range conceptually from angular free-bop to pointillist expressionism and adaptations of traditional Navajo songs. It’s smart music with a heartbeat: physical, rough-edged and inspired. Most important, it’s real-reason enough to recommend it unreservedly.