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John Blake

John Blake, Jr. has been one of the world’s leading jazz violinists for over four decades. A four-time winner of the Down Beat Critics’ Poll Violinist Deserving Wider Recognition category he was also one of the top two jazz violinists in the 49th, 50th, and 51st Down Beat Readers’ Poll, Classically trained, Blake first gained recognition on early-'70s recordings he made with Archie Shepp and in the mid-70s became established with a global audience during three years recording and touring as a member of Grover Washington, Jr.’s popular “crossover” jazz band. He then spent five years working extensively as a member of various ensembles led by pianist McCoy. Among other artists with whom Blake has performed and/or recorded with are the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Turtle Island String Quartet, Quartet Indigo, the Steve Turre Sextet, the Billy Taylor Trio, Avery Sharpe, Cecil McBee, Jay Hoggard and James Newton. Blake released his recording debut as a leader and composer, Maiden Dance, in 1984, the first of five well-received projects on Gramavision Records including one that teamed him up with fellow jazz violinists Michal Urbaniak and Didier Lockwood. He released his sixth album, Quest that reunited him with Grover Washington and featured Joe Ford, Charles Fambrough, Ben Riley, Omar Hill, Joey Calderazzo, on Sunnyside Records 1992. Blake’s first recording with his current quartet, The Traveler, was released in 2007.

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Throughout his career, John Blake has veered back and forth between R&B-ish sets and more adventurous dates. A pleasing if not overly distinctive violinist, the versatile Blake has played in a wide variety of settings. After advanced classical study, he first gained recognition for his early-'70s recordings with Archie Shepp. During the next decade, Blake recorded with McCoy Tyner, James Newton, Cecil McBee, Jay Hoggard, and Grover Washington, Jr., touring extensively with Tyner and Washington. He made a series of generally interesting, if diverse, sets for Gramavision in the 1980s (including a fascinating 1986 date with fellow violinists Michal Urbaniak and Didier Lockwood) and one CD for Sunnyside in 1992, showing a lot of potential

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