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T.K. Blue: Eyes of the Elders

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Global jazz-fusion might be a convenient term to use in reference to at least some of the music that altoman T. K. Blue offers on this release, but, for the most part, it is straightahead contemporary jazz. Bearing a tone that seems to have its origins in Cannonball and later clean-cut, postbop players, the well-tempered Blue is obviously quite competent as a player, but, like so many others of his generation, he has yet to have discovered his own instrumental voice. Besides alto, he also plays flute and kalimba, an African instrument that, along with Stefon Harris’ appealing marimba and vibraphone, helps to convey the desired impression of African inspiration.

Blue’s “Rites of Passage” best exemplifies his and Harris’ rapport as dually interactive percussive soloists, their three short “Village Council Interludes” also serving as referential paradigms for the later developing New Orleans style of ensemble counterpoint. But on Denzil Best’s early bop classic “Wee,” Mingus’ “Nostalgia In Times Square,” and Benny Carter’s up-tempo “South Side Samba,” trumpeter Randy Brecker, pianists Joanne Brackeen, Eric Reed and James Weidman, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, percussionist Steve Kroon and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, as well as Blue the altoman, also have ample opportunities to exercise their own jazz chops. Trane’s “Wise One” closes the disc and perhaps best exposes the leader’s potential as a jazz soloist. Other tunes include Hale Smith’s “Frozen Mist,” and Blue’s “Dance of The Nile,” “Eyes Of The Elders,” “Harold’s Theme” and “Matriarch,” all of which are copyrighted under the altoist’s legal name, Talib Kibwe.