JazzTimes (p.90) - "Lake's seven compositions run the gamut from the jaunty, uplifting funk of 'Say Girl' to the stuttering, staccato slither of 'Move Groove.'"
Oliver Lake: Oliver Lake (alto saxophone); Jard Gold (Hammond b-3 organ); Johnathan Blake (drums).
Audio Mixer: Peter Karl.
Liner Note Author: Greg Tate.
Recording information: Tedesco Studio, Paramus, NJ (09/11/2006).
Photographer: Tommy Tedesco .
Oliver Lake has never been your garden variety, typical jazz musician, so his fans should expect nothing less than something completely different and unique coming out of his biting, sharpened alto sax. With an organ combo, Lake's concept is no less intriguing and different from all the rest of the chitin' circuit bands one might have heard prior. Joining young rising B-3 star Jared Gold and the terrific drummer Jonathan Blake, Lake has created something singularly unique, with his horn as clearly the focus for this contemporary creative jazz that should stand most listeners on their collective ear. This music goes beyond funk, groove blues, or even swinging jazz, with Lake's pungent, challenging, but accessible alto prodding and probing for nuances and progressive stances far beyond the normalized or predictable.
Blake is greatly responsible for this daring do, as his rhythmic propulsion goes far beyond mere timekeeping. His wicked drumming sets the tone on the sly, slinky "Say Girl," while his brawny yet understated funk -- the way it should be played without over-amping -- propels the more subtle "Move Groove." Lake is stronger than ever in his resolve and individualism on his horn, driving sideways during the spiky, at-times overblown, frantic blues shortie "Gano," avoiding exaggeration on the intriguing title track, and laying down a full-blown, straight-up St. Louis-to-Chicago "Olla's Blues," a real treat. There are two compositions from former Lake running mate, the late and legendary modern creative trumpeter and composer Malachi Thompson, as "In Walked John" opens the program in a jaunty New Orleans style with a superlative melody, while the equally outstanding "Spirit of Man" has the trio in a light but no less deep funk mood as Lake's alto carries the day save a witty calypso insert from Blake. Gold proves his worth continually as a new voice of the organ that does not need to show off or jump up and down in order to get attention. Like predecessors Don Pullen and Larry Young, or peer Larry Goldings, Gold fully understands how to shade and shape these compositions without shredding them up. "Nu Peace" firmly establishes this concept of probing into the depths of notes and chords without pushing the envelope, leaving that to his worthy band mates. The loping clip-clop trap-drum pace of "Dedicated to B.C." urging Lake's singsong sax, or the abundantly lyrical traditional number "I Want to Talk to Jesus" in its loose blue form, has the trio in great form from a team-oriented perspective. Oliver Lake has produced many wonderful recordings over four decades, and this likely is his most satisfying in recent years. It works on several different levels, is robust, refreshing, and comes highly recommended for both his fans and first-timers. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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