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Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records by The Blue Note 7

Last year marked the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records, the paragon of jazz labels. Recognizing this auspicious occasion, the company issued the CD Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records. On the recording, an all-star septet with leader Bill Charlap on piano; Nicholas Payton, trumpet; Steve Wilson alto sax and flute; Ravi Coltrane, tenor; Peter Bernstein, guitar; Peter Washington, bass; and Lewis Nash, drums. They play new arrangements of classics featured on the label over the years.

Coinciding with the release, the septet launched a 50-city cross-country tour in January, ending mid-April with a six-night date in New York’s Birdland. We caught the group last month in Southern California at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The set we heard featured numbers from the CD, as well others.

Great emphasis has been put on new arrangements by band members of compositions by such as Horace Silver, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell and Herbie Hancock, including also a couple arranged by Blue Note artist, pianist Renee Rosnes. Solo time is limited on the selections (not everyone is given time on each piece), and the charts are complex with the ensemble filling in behind soloists.

Three from the recording are featured the first part of the set: Silver’s bop anthem "The Outlaw," with Payton hitting all the high notes on his solo; next Bernstein’s guitar comes into dazzling relief on Duke Pearson’s noirish "Idyll Moments," followed by Wilson’s lilting flute solo on Bobby Hutcherson’s "Little D’s Poem."

At the live set, highlights of tunes not in the CD, were Wayne Shorter’s barn-burning "United," with a Nash drum solo starting things, before Washington's pulsating bass comes in; this leads Coltrane, slouching toward center stage, to take powerful command on tenor. In two others, Bud Powell’s "Dance of the Infidels" and Jackie McLean’s "A Ballad for Doll," Payton shines again, particularly on the latter as he etches a haunting portrait.

My advice: Pickup the CD and then go to the web to find out if the 7 is appearing in your area. Following its U. S. run, the group embarks this fall to Europe.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: The Blue Note 7
  • CD Title: Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Blue Note
  • Rating: Five Stars
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