Brian Blade: Mama Rosa (Verve Forecast/Universal)

 |   |  1 min read

Brian Blade: Get There
Brian Blade: Mama Rosa (Verve Forecast/Universal)

This multiple-threat recently appeared in New Zealand as a member of the John McLaughlin-Chick Corea Five Peace Band and even in that illustrious company made an immediate impression as a drummer of exceptional character and energy (see bottom of this page for a Five Peace Band concert review.)

Jazz drumming doesn't come much more intelligent, musical or as enjoyable to watch than Blade when he sparks, as he did in concert.

But -- and this is the big but -- he is a man whose talents are many: this album catches him as a soulful, singer-songwriter in an extended song-cycle meditation on family with a production which owes much to the warm sonic ambience of Daniel Lanois (who here plays bass and guitar in places).

Singing from different perspectives (After the Revival is his mother before the birth of Blade's older brother, and references the gospel church) and nakedly autobiographical in places, this is a gentle and thought-provoking collection which is marked by restraint and understatement: it's a listening album in other words and nothing throws itself in your face.

But it rewards attention: the gentle Second Home with Greg Leisz of Emmylou Harris' band on pedal steel guitar; the soft and slow thoughts on someone gone on You'll Always Be My Baby (his mother again? him to a lover?); the almost urgent instrumental Struggling With That and Eno-like ambient All Gospel Radio which conjure up wide open spaces, his gentle treated-piano closer on Psalm 100 . . . 

For a drummer, Blade plays a lot of fine guitar here and although his vocals are necessarily intimate and low (the nature of the subject as much as perhaps his limitations) this is an album -- sometimes referenced in too- familiar areas such as Eno and spacious alt.country -- which works best when being engaged attentatively.

Share It

Your Comments

Jos - May 11, 2009

Nice album, a bit religious here and there, but a pleasant companion in the earphones.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Belle and Sebastian: Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance (Matador)

Belle and Sebastian: Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance (Matador)

One of the must-see acts at Laneway, B&S from Scotland have over two decades quietly built a large fanbase for their gorgeously melodic, cleverly literate and often wry pop-rock which owes... > Read more

The Verlaines: Untimely Meditations (Flying Nun)

The Verlaines: Untimely Meditations (Flying Nun)

Of the original Flying Nun bands, the Verlaines – the flexible vehicle for Graeme Downes – are still the most ambitious. Downes' lyrical depth and mercurial melodies deliver... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE WORLD MUSIC QUESTIONNAIRE: Someone from Tago

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE WORLD MUSIC QUESTIONNAIRE: Someone from Tago

It is in the nature of these things that you send a questionnaire to a group and someone answers, but they neglect to tell us who. So with apologies to whoever in the Korean percussion ensemble... > Read more

ANCIENT MARINER, BY KEN McGOOGAN REVIEWED (2005): Ice cold and Coleridge

ANCIENT MARINER, BY KEN McGOOGAN REVIEWED (2005): Ice cold and Coleridge

In the middle of the 18th century only 20 per cent of ordinary sailors in the Royal Navy were volunteers, the rest had been press-ganged into service. The reasons why so few willingly joined were... > Read more