Ed Blackwell: Pentahouve
Ed Blackwell (drums)
Ed Blackwell Project, Vol. II: What It Be Like? (Enja 80542)
Composed by Mark Helias.
Recorded: live at Yoshi's, Oakland, CA, August 8, 1992
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Blackwell rarely got to record as a leader, and the 1992 live recordings at Yoshi's that were released on two CDs—What It Is? and What It Be Like?—came just two months to the day before his death from the kidney ailment that had plagued him for so many years. Given his condition, he is heard in surprisingly good form on the track, "Pentahouve," which is reminiscent in both spirit and sound of his memorable 1969 duets with Don Cherry, Mu First Part and Mu Second Part. Cherry played both pocket trumpet and flute on those albums, and here is represented by Graham Haynes' cornet and Carlos Ward's flute.
"Pentahouve" commences with Mark Helias's bass intoning the darting staccato theme, before first Ward and Blackwell and then Haynes enter the picture. As the horns replay the intricate melody, Blackwell artfully emphasizes its rhythmic contours. As usual, the singular drummer seems to be continually combining a personal statement with reactive commentary. Cornet and flute engage in an extended dialogue, and Haynes' mellow, muted tone blends nicely with Ward's singing, joyful flute. Blackwell's vigorous unacccompanied solo follows, his mallet work imparting an African quality, while also insinuating New Orleans (his hometown) and martial beats. Best known for his essential work with Ornette Coleman and Old and New Dreams, Blackwell never failed, in any grouping or context, both to energize and enhance a performance, as he does on "Pentahouve."
Reviewer: Scott Albin