Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser returns to the blues. The sixth album of his quartet, «Early in the Mornin’», offers his personal version of the blues, He draws inspiration from blues forefathers as Leadbelly, Sam Collins, Clarence Ashley, Dick Devall and Alan Lomax, but presents their rich legacy in a fresh, modern language that blurs boundaries between blues, modern jazz, free improvisation and contemporary classical music.
Blaser works again under the the artistic direction of producer Robert Sadin, who produced projects of Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Sting, and directed Blaser Quartet previous album, «Spring Rain» (Whirlwind Recordings, 2015). Blaser Quartet features pianist-keyboards player Russ Lossing, who played on «Spring Rain», and newcomers – double bass player Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Gerry Hemingway, who collaborated before with Blaser. Veteran alto sax player Oliver Lake and trumpeter Wallace Roney augment the quartet, each in one song.
Blaser knows how to balance cleverly his affinity to play ‘out’, in freedom-seeking forms, with his ‘in’ harmonic structures. His compositions suggest a nostalgic atmosphere. But his lyrical melodies are colored in a European melancholia, swing gently with untimely, vintage keyboards sounds and rock with loose rhythmic patterns. He leads the quartet with relaxed elegance and passionate charm, singing the themes with full-rounded, warm tone.
Songs like «Tom Sherman» present the quartet in its most emotional, straight-ahead moments. Other pieces like «Murder’s Home» and «Klaxon» introduce ironic perspectives and mysterious, cinematic tension to the quartet emphatic interplay. On «The Carpenter» Roney brings some hard-swinging energy to the quartet leisured spirit and Lake cements the blues roots with soulful, captivating solos on «Levee Camp Moan Blues». But in the end it is Blaser himself who simply loves to sing the blues. Check his engaging solo on «Black Betty» demonstrates.
«Early in the Mornin’» will keep you warm and content not only in the wee hours of early mornings.
Samuel Blaser (tb), Russ Lossing (p, Fender rhodes, wurlitzer, clavinet, hammond, minimoog), Masa Kamaguchi (b), Gerry Hemingway (dr), Oliver Lake (as), Wallace Roney (tp)