Blaze

Texas Platters

Record Reviews

Blaze

Say What Now?

Blaze is the foremost no-bullshit young jazz band to hit the local scene in years. Their self-titled debut album was far and away the best straight-shooting local jazz release of last year, and its sheer excellence earned it a spot on many local Top 10 lists. The standard five-piece dynamo, led by veteran local drummer Brannen Temple, returns with this superb sophomore release, which clearly shows that they're anything but a one-trick pony. Where their debut seemed to go for broke with one lengthy track after another of earnest fire-breathing, this LP feels far more relaxed, with shorter tracks and concise solos that help project an overall sound that's particularly inviting. Say What Now? is nicely bookended by kicked-backed, soulful readings of Miles' "Nardis" and Prince's "Do You Lie?" and in between are more than a half-dozen original tunes by four of the five group members. There's a subtle and sublime groove throughout that does its deed on the strength of Temple's splendid stickwork, strong soloing from the horns, and some compelling group interplay. Trumpeter Ephraim Owens' "Pieces," saxman Michael Malone's title track, and Temple's "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" are standouts. After falling out of favor due to its overindulgence throughout the Seventies, the Fender Rhodes is back in vogue, and pianist Steven Snyder puts it to very effective use on several tracks to give the album a very now sound. Guitar hotshot Robben Ford guests on several tracks, but his tasteful licks are more of a guilty pleasure than a necessary ingredient. The gentlemen of Blaze can handle matters quite nicely all by themselves.

**** 

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