Because percussionist and bandleader Robert Jospe has developed a broad, world beat view of jazz, his arrangements of the familiar tunes on "Blue Blaze" sound uncommonly fresh and expansive.
The album's title alludes to Jospe's principal inspiration for this session--the music recorded by numerous jazz masters for the Blue Note label--but this is hardly your typical tribute offering. With plenty of help from his band mates and guest saxophonist Michael Brecker, Jospe has recast and in some cases reimagined the tunes of Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Blue Mitchell, Kenny Dorham and Wayne Shorter. The results are always entertaining and often surprising.
Granted, Morgan's "Calling Miss Khadija" and Silver's "Cape Verdean Blues" are worth hearing for Brecker's robust contributions alone, but what's more emblematic of the album are the colorful settings that Jospe has devised for the pieces. The Morgan melody is punctuated by a vibrant polyrhythmic interlude that complements the tune's original funk thrust, while Silver's composition is infused with salsa beats and a pervasive Afro-Caribbean flavor.
Jospe has augmented the classic tunes with several original pieces, which range from the freewheeling blues burner "Night Out" to the eight-minute "World Beat Suite," the album's richly textured finale. He's also surrounded himself with several gifted musicians, including fellow percussionist Kevin Davis, trumpeter John D'earth, guitarist Royce Campbell and pianist Bob Hallahan, who help facilitate his panoramic vision.
Appearing at Blues Alley on Tuesday.
To hear a free Sound Bite from Robert Jospe and Inner Rhythm, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8105. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)