Seamus Blake

Stranger Things Have Happened

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Seamus Blake's first disc on the Fresh Sound New Talent label is a marvelous showcase not only for the leader but also for guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, the album's other prominent solo voice. Bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy, together the backbone of Brad Mehldau's famous trio, lay down the ideal rhythmic universe for Blake and Rosenwinkel to flourish in.

Opening with the wild, funkified double-time of "Perk," the group goes on to traverse a wide swath of territory, from the classic post-bop swing of "Happenstance" and "G.S.S." to the experimental sounds of "Token Cello" and "Of Ours." Jesse Harris guests on second guitar for "Northern Light," a song that almost sounds like Simon & Garfunkel. (There's an uncredited vocal performance, probably by Blake.) "Extranjero," a lilting soprano sax feature, and Farouq Dawad's fast-swinging "Taurus People," the sole non-original piece, complete the inspired program.

With Stranger Things Have Happened, Seamus Blake proves many times over that he can go toe-to-toe with great young tenors like Joshua Redman, Chris Potter, and Mark Turner.

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