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In the current climate we are doing our best to keep everyone up to date. All gigs, as we all know, are off.

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Today

As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

CD Review: Ray Blue - Work


Ray Blue (tenor sax); Sharp Radway (piano); Jeff Barone (guitar) Essiet Okone Essiet (bass); Steve Johns (drums) + Kirk Lightsey or Benito Gonzalez (piano); Ron Wilkins (trombone); Belden Bullock (bass); Neil Clark (percussion).
(Review by James Henry)

Once in a while, from out of nowhere, comes a CD that is just about perfect and restores one’s faith in jazz, the universe and just about everything else. Ray Blue’s Work is just such a gem. This is a carefully curated mix of the old and the new, played in a swinging old school style, but with enough freshness and surprise to keep us on our toes, and enough depth to reward a careful listening.

Ray Blue is a New York based saxophonist with an impressive CV as a sideman, and a few solo credits. He has worked extensively in the USA, mainland Europe and China, but sadly doesn’t appear to have played in the UK. His tenor playing is sweet and mellow and at its very best in the lower register.


The title piece Work is one of Blue’s own compositions, and is a joyful number - its rhythmic style lies somewhere between calypso and cha-cha, and it is helped along by Neil Clark’s percussion. Lift Every Voice and Sing is given an up beat rendition but retains an appropriate hymn-like, gospel quality. There are ballads too: My Friend and I Took a Walk, another Blue composition, has an ethereal quality, and Benito Gonzalez’ gentle piano playing perfectly matches Blue’s sweet tenor. Gonzalez and Blue continue their ballad partnership in That’s All, with sensitive support from Essiet Okone Essiet on bass and Steve Johns on drums. Nat Adderley’s Sweet Emma is uplifting, with a fine trombone solo from Ron Wilkins, and tight ensemble work.  

There are surprises too: Everything Happens to Me escapes from life as a ballad and enjoys a mid-tempo quartet outing. Don’t Know Why will tease you until you remember hearing Norah Jones singing it everywhere a few years back. Our Day Will Come is stated confidently and benefits from a driving up-tempo treatment.

Work is like one’s work should be- varied and fulfilling, purposeful and enjoyable, and more than just a job. Nice work.
James H

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