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

Perez Patitucci Blade: Children of the Light

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.

Although pianist Danilo Pérez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade have never recorded as a trio before, they’ve been playing together regularly since 2000, when they joined forces on Pérez’s Motherland. For most of the past 15 years, of course, they’ve made up a quartet with Wayne Shorter, who looms over these proceedings even in his absence. Not only is the album dedicated to him, but its gentle pun of a title harks back to his 1961 composition “Children of the Night.” Shorter also provided brief liner notes and wrote one of the tracks, the evergreen “Dolores,” which the band nimbly attaches to the end of Pérez’s “Light Echo.”

Of the 11 originals (seven by Pérez), the majority take a jump-cut approach, alternating pre-composed sections with periods of improvisation at unusual junctures. Time signatures are frequently odd, and when they’re not, Blade’s subtle accents still make them seem so, as on Patitucci’s fractured blues “Moonlight on Congo Square.” Unfortunately, all this messing with structure begins to feel as predictable in its way as head-solos-head: Here’s another serpentine unison part; here’s where the rhythm goes wonky again; here come the big rubato swells. And though these players can clearly fly with each other anywhere, their discursive journeys too often leave the listener behind.

Two of the most engaging moments come during breaks from the strict trio format. On “Lumen,” Pérez trades pithy licks with himself on acoustic and overdubbed electric piano, while “Ballad for a Noble Man (in Memory of Doug Sommer)” opens with Patitucci laying a high, questing melody on a bed of cellos (played by his wife, Sachi). The spirit of Shorter may haunt Children of the Light, but the sound of his saxophone would have been welcome too, if only for variety’s sake.

Originally Published