BLAKE MEISTER                                                                                                             Septagon                                                                                                                                            Inner Circle Music INCMCD 028

Blake Meister – bs; Gary Thomas – ts/fl; Paul Bollenback – el gtr/ac gtr; Marc Copeland – pno; Ralph Peterson – dms. [Peabody Studios, Baltimore, MD; 2011.]

Blackout/Sunken City/The Grind/Falling (In Slow Motion)/Cynic/Market East/Sunset/Septagon.   TT: 64.00.

This CD came to me via a friend, Philadelphia-based radio DJ Jonny Meister who has done shows for decades on WXPN, the public station based at The University of Pennsylvania. Blake is one of his sons, exactly where in the run of four kids, I’m not sure! The kid plays bass and writes – he also attracted serious musicians to his recording and this is his initial effort. Meister is the bassist with the American Studio, as well as being on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of Music. Blake is well trained and has great chops – there are many out there like that – but he seems to have some of that certain something to stand out. This is modern jazz at its best without being “avant-garde”; all the pieces are written by him and they vary from seductive and sly to fragmented and hesitating, all being rhythmic as hell in a subtle way.

The band is a rhythm section (guitar included) with sax, a make-up that is less common than one might think. All the musicians play together as if they had been playing a long time together as a working band (I’m assuming they had not). Bollenback reminds me of Jim Hall (in a good way), while Thomas has roots in Sonny Rollins (a.o.). The overall sense of the album is dream-like, but not dreamy… more tone poems and musical moods, rather than foot-tappers – this NOT “smooth jazz” bye the bye, but there is a sense of polish and floating. And they swing! Check out the ’net for sources (the record label is one place to go) and enjoy a fine listen… the music is in good hands.


Published: IAJRC JOURNAL; Vol. 47, No. 4 – pp. 66/67.

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