Brian Blade: Return of the Prodigal Son


Return of the Prodigal Son


Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band


Season of Changes (Verve B0010696-02)

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Brian Blade (drums),

Myron Walden (alto sax), Melvin Butler (tenor sax), Jon Cowherd (piano), Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar), Chris Thomas (bass)


Composed by Jon Cowherd


Recorded: Rhinebeck, NY, October 10-13, year not given, probably 2007


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

Brian Blade first came to most listeners' attention in the mid-'90s as Joshua Redman's hot drummer, and by the year 2000 had already released two notable CDs featuring his Fellowship Band. Yet despite Blade's consistently high profile since then, it took eight more years before his own group's third recording saw the light of day. It was worth the wait. The track "Return of the Prodigal Son" is a fine example of how Blade and his Fellowship Band present very appealing thematic material through inventive, multifaceted arrangements.

The soothing, unadorned theme, lyrical and reflective, is introduced by the full ensemble prior to Rosenwinkel's richly intoned opening solo, his lines flowing and gracefully resolved. The guitarist's final bars turn more resolute and dissonant, as if to set the mood for Butler's modal workout that follows. The tenorman's erupting phrases, exultant shrieks and deeply resonant low notes are reinforced by Cowherd's persistently prodding accompaniment. The pianist then turns the piece around with some lilting embellishments of the theme. When Rosenwinkel joins him, Butler and Walden begin playing another pattern in counterpoint. Before long, however, you notice that Cowherd and Rosenwinkel are now improvising and the horns have in turn taken up the melody. Finally the entire group merges to engagingly interpret the theme, which reaches a soft and satisfying conclusion. Blade and bassist Thomas provide diverse and responsive support throughout this performance. It must be added that the composition itself, Rosenwinkel's solo, and particularly the moving closing section, all remind one to some extent of Pat Metheny.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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