Sunday, March 21, 2010

STRUM-GALI

Bassist Alexander BlakeI had an ulterior reason for attending your concert last night at KerryTown Concert House. Of course, I was anxious to hear your trio. Mr. Weston, the last time you're in Michigan I missed out. I can't recall why. However, several friends told me your African Rhythm Trio put on an outstanding show, and they boasted about your bass player Alex Blake. They said he did some way out tricks on the bass. Blake's handling of the instrument inspired two of my friends, who're poets to write poems about the bassist unique style. I wanted to see Blake play. I founded some video footage of him performing on YouTube. Sure enough, he was everything my friends described. Mr. Weston, I attended your concert last night mainly because I wanted to experience Blake firsthand. The concert was magnificent. I appreciated how you prefaced each song the trio performed with a story. You came across like a professor of African culture and history. Blake was quite the showman.

He manhandled the bass all night long. It was indeed something to behold. On your original "Blue Moses," I thought the audience should've been required to wear safety glasses. He was ferocious. At any moment, I thought Blake's strings would snap. I never seen the bass played so rambunctiously. During Blake's solos, I wondered if he's a frustrated drummer, or if he was a percussionist in a former life. I guess I'll never know, and it was too weird of a question to ask him. I did ask Blake after the first set to describe his style of playing. He said he plays the bass like a percussive instrument. (Maybe my frustrated percussionist observation is true.) Blake can also, at the drop of a hat, turn off his rambunctious side, and play the bass sensually as if he's caressing a beautiful woman's leg. .

Mr. Weston, perhaps I shouldn't be boasting about your sideman. It was your gig after all, and you did a great job of keeping the capacity audience going. I bet many will have sore necks and swollen feet because they stomped their feet and bobbed their heads nonstop all night. You're spiritualist at heart. I understood your statement that every person is an instrument. Their voices are music. You spotted trumpeter Marcus Belgrave sitting in the audience, and asked him to join the band on the cooker "High Fly". Belgrave made the concert more special.

Belgrave resisted at first because he didn't have his horn on hand. You made him go get it. After the audience pressured him, Belgrave agreed only because he lives near the concert house. Mr. Weston, it was a good night. Worth the hour drive from Harper Woods to Ann Arbor. Your playing was wonderful. I wondered if your ancestors blessed your fingers, given the way fingers moved across the piano keys.

My friends were right about Blake. He's certainly a unique jazz bass player. I wanted to ask him, after the second set, about his influences. Over the years, I heard a ton of jazz bassist. None more animated as Blake. So I'd wager he was influence by the style of bass playing in Africa. I didn't get another chance is question him. He was surrounded by other well-wishers who're just as awed with his playing as I was.
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