Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band: Body and Shadow – a combo built on trust

Fri, Nov 24, 2017, 05:00


Body and Shadow

Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band

Blue Note


When Brian Blade first called his Fellowship band together back in 1997, he was a rising star, a respected drummer with some notable credits, but just one of many young jazz musicians struggling to be heard. In the intervening years, the Louisiana native has become perhaps the most influential percussionist of his generation, an artist of great subtlety and musicality, in constant demand as a collaborator, most notably with the peerless Wayne Shorter quartet.

Today Blade has the creative clout to call on any musician he cares to, but the fact that he has kept faith with the players he started out with – pianist Jon Cowherd, saxophonists Myron Walden and Melvin Butler and bassist Chris Thomas – is a clue to his temperament as an artist. The output of the band has been leisurely to say the least – this is just their fifth release in those 20 years – but the sense of an ensemble reaching not for technical virtuosity, but for the more elusive qualities of trust and openness, is palpable here, and marks the Fellowship out as a special band, one that is weaving the loose threads of folk, jazz, rock and gospel into a new and beguiling genre of their own.