By Theresa Crushshon
The Blue Note Seven
Blue Note Records, America’s premier jazz label, celebrates their seventieth anniversary with Blue Note Records On Tour featuring: Bill Charlap (piano), Peter Washington (bass), Lewis Nash (drums), Steve Wilson (alto saxophone, flute), Peter Bernstein (guitar), Nicholas Payton (trumpet) and Ravi Coltrane (saxophone).
Performing Sunday, March 25th at Minnesota Orchestra Hall, the talented Blue Note Seven performed selected pieces created by musicians from the hard bop era. The music featured the genius of jazz giants: Horace Silver, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Art Blakely, and Lee Morgan. The music was performed with such profound musical intensity and respect it felt like The Blue Note Seven had been performing together on a regular basis. But, then when you consider the musicians and their expertise on their given instrument, one could not expect nothing less than a world-class performance loaded with stellar solo performances throughout the presentation.
Herbie Hancock’s "Dolphin Dance" was performed with precision. Arranged by Peter Washington, Payton provided a sweet and extremely relaxed trumpet opening full of intricate melodic figures. Charlap was equally engaging on piano. His lines extracted warmth and richness and effortlessly played. The passion created by the musicians was very soulful.
Lewis Nash portrayed such meticulous attention to technique on the Wayne Shorter tune entitled "United" that he left the audience in awe. His versatility is mesmerizing and a delight to watch. His elaborate and graceful arrangements contained a range of moods that gave the audience something to cling to. Both, daring and impulsive, Nash started off on the drums performing with brushes before bringing out the mallets. He created illustrious sounds using his fingertips and palms and eventually moved on into the piece with traditional drumsticks. His performance on "United" was beyond belief. Lewis Nash possesses superior melodic gifts and is one helluva drummer.
"It is unique what Wayne Shorter has done over the years," stated Ravi Coltrane. He continued, "There is greatness to his music. He is a major contributor to the jazz language and the tenor sax," Coltrane added.
And, theirs as well. It is interesting to see the diversity of each performer, especially during performances like this where they are not performing with their respective bands and we are able to witness the extended beauty of their musical palette.
After receiving a standing ovation, The Blue Note Seven closed with Lee Morgan’s "Party Time." Full of swing, it was rightfully fitting for the hard bop cause and the colorful dimensions that it gave to the genre. Nash even threw in some scatting as an extra treat.