Our lives are replete with the accoutrements of modernity. Cell phones, high-speed Internet service, various modes of transportation, educational products promising to “jump start” our children into the realm of high achievers and a deluge of media dominate our daily lives. We are distracted from thinking and feeling—from recognizing our humanity; and, indeed, our humaneness. The blues, however, reveals the simple truths of the human condition; unsentimentally and forthrightly asserting the bittersweet essence of human desire.
In Blooz Bluze Blues, internationally acclaimed trombonist and educator Wycliffe Gordon reminds us that we are infinitely more than the information technology and mechanization that threatens us with annihilation. Shouts, hollers, breathless moans and sighs burst forth from Gordon’s horn proclaiming the victory of the human spirit. Blooz Bluze Blues demonstrates the versatility that is the blues, sonically articulating the dynamism and diversity of human emotion. “Warming Up” and honoring the past Gordon runs through a variety of exercises creating a stunning array of sounds that prepare his listeners for the diverse interpretations of the blues to come.
Moody and provocative, “Balooze” captures the easy familiarity between Gordon and long-time playing companions Victor Goines on tenor saxophone; Rodney Whitaker on bass; and Herlin Riley on drums. On “Deacon Cone” he demonstrates the power of his emotive influence with Walter Blanding Jr. and Ted Nash on tenor and alto saxophones, Marcus Printup on trumpet, and Eric Reed on piano. The emotional intensity conjures not only the Holy Spirit, it illuminates the fine line between the sacred and secular as the sounds of Saturday night meet Sunday morning. In a rare display of trombone diversity, “Frantic Flight” features Gordon, Delfeayo Marsalis, Ron Westray, Jen Krupa and Dave Gibson demonstrating the possibilities of sounds achievable on the single instrument. Here, Reed on piano, Whitaker on bass and Riley on drums work seamlessly to create a rhythmic and harmonic foundation perfect for the trombonists to freely express themselves.
For those who like their blues hard swinging and nonstop, “1st Thang” is as unsentimental as it gets. Gordon announces this tune forthrightly. Sharing the piano chair with Farid Barron, “My Man Freeze” illustrates a unique verbal dialogue while playing their individual testaments to blues piano styles that they’ve become familiar with over the years. As Gordon and Barron make clear on this CD’s final track “Quittin’ Time,” the weariness that marks the end of the workday does not suggest the longing for slumber. Quite to the contrary, and as Barron’s playful tickling of the ivories suggests, something more provocative is at hand. There will be slow dragging to be sure and tickling, indeed but when “quittin’ time” comes, adult time begins and so too does the stuff that makes the blues.