Brian Blade. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Live At The Village Vanguard

Brian Blade: Live at the Village VanguardWBGO

Bang Your Drum

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/91567367/91692735" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Widely recognized as one of the finest drummers in modern jazz — or in all of popular music, for that matter — Brian Blade directed the spotlight onto his compositional and bandleading talents when he helmed his Fellowship Band in a live performance at the Village Vanguard, broadcast live on air by WBGO and live online at NPR Music.

Blade's band began much as their new record Season of Changes does, performing the first four tracks in the order in which they begin the album, before branching deeper into their repertoire and ending with a new, unrecorded composition. On full display were the shifting moods, pastoral textures and elegant soloing with which the Fellowship Band has distinguished itself for over a decade. Their intricate music ebbed and flowed, yielding broad spaces for tasteful improvisation bookended by cathartic climaxes or meditative themes. The sextet deployed a wide range of tone colors, from open-sounding guitar sustains to clamorous cymbal work to duets for bass clarinet and pump organ.

The members of the Fellowship coalesce around the writing of Blade and keyboard player Jon Cowherd; the long-standing rapport of the ensemble ensures that Blade and Cowherd can work with specific voices and collective expression in mind. A thoroughly modern jazz band, the Fellowship is no neo-classical hard bop ensemble; it openly seeks emotive power in sinuous lyricism, open voicings, and the guitar twang of country and folk music. Behind it all is the subtly virtuosic rhythmic finesse on which Blade has made his name.

Having soaked up the musical lessons of his native Louisiana, Blade first emerged on the national jazz landscape in the 1990s amid talented peers such as Brad Mehldau and Joshua Redman. As his generation of young lions turned into the standard-bearers of contemporary jazz, his talents also have garnered him frequent appearances and recordings with legends like Wayne Shorter. Blade hasn't limited himself to jazz alone; he has played on records with Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan, among others.

As the leader of the Fellowship Band, Blade was first able to document his compositions on 1998's critically acclaimed Brian Blade Fellowship, produced by Daniel Lanois. It was followed by the equally beloved Perceptual in 2000. Eight years later, Blade's long-awaited third album Season of Changes was released this spring.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Don Cheadle stars as Miles Davis in the film Miles Ahead. Sony Pictures Classics hide caption

toggle caption Sony Pictures Classics

Jazz Night In America

Three Miles Ahead

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

On screen, ink, and stage with actor Don Cheadle, writer Quincy Troupe and trumpeter Keyon Harrold.

Three Miles Ahead

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491558852/491559806" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Cecile McLorin Salvant and Sullivan Fortner. Mark Fitton/Philippe Levy-Stab/Courtesy of the artists hide caption

toggle caption Mark Fitton/Philippe Levy-Stab/Courtesy of the artists

Jazz Night In America

Cecile McLorin Salvant And Sullivan Fortner

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Two rising stars of their instruments duet at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Cecile McLorin Salvant And Sullivan Fortner

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491556926/491558723" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Norah Jones. Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS hide caption

toggle caption Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Norah Jones On Piano Jazz

The smoky-voiced singer reinvents standards like "The Nearness Of You" in a 2003 session.

Marian McPartland In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491481080/491483313" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Marty Napoleon. Wikimedia Commons hide caption

toggle caption Wikimedia Commons

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Marty Napoleon On Piano Jazz

Hear the pianist, who once played with Louis Armstrong's All Stars, duet with Marian McPartland.

Marty Napoleon In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/490624621/490631097" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

David Sánchez. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

David Sánchez On Piano Jazz

The cosmopolitan saxophonist and his rhythm section join Marian McPartland for a set of standards.

David Sanchez In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/489759939/489765697" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Cover art to The Great Kai and J.J., 1960. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Jazz Night In America

The Eminence Of J.J. Johnson, And His Partnership With Kai Winding

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Trombonist Vincent Gardner takes on the music of his instrument's bebop pioneer.

The Eminence Of J.J. Johnson, And His Partnership With Kai Winding

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/488851522/488851879" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Marilyn Crispell. Claire Stefani/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Claire Stefani/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Marilyn Crispell On Piano Jazz

The pianist plays free jazz with an evocative and disciplined style.

Marilyn Crispell In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/488725929/488823539" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Eric Reed. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Eric Reed On Piano Jazz

Hear the young pianist and composer give a solo performance of "Cedar's Blues" in a 1995 session.

Eric Reed In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487919012/487933490" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jacky Terrasson. Philippe Levy-Stab/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Philippe Levy-Stab/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Jacky Terrasson On Piano Jazz

Back in 1995, the young pianist demonstrated extraordinary talent on standards.

Jacky Terrasson On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487065269/487071612" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top