Multi-talented saxophonist Ron Blake inhabits many worlds, and nowhere is this more apparent than on his third release for Mack Avenue, Shayari (shy-ree). Produced by pianist Michael Cain (who also appears on the CD), Shayari (the meaning, in Urdu, a type of ancient poetry consisting of couplets and a highly stylized form of verse considered extremely beautiful) combines fertile ground from each of Blake’s worlds to create an extraordinary landscape of its own. Showcased here in an intimate, unplugged, trio setting, the CD also features performances by special guests drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist Christian McBride, violinist Regina Carter and percussionist Gilmar Gomes.
Blake, a strikingly tall, Virgin Islands-born native, is based in New York City. He is a well-rounded musician and has recorded three CDs as a leader; in addition, his discography numbers more than 50 recordings as either a guest or sideman with leading artists. They include Roy Hargrove; Art Farmer; the Christian McBride Band; Spirit Music Jamia; Red, Hot + Riot; and the Grammy® nominated, Latin pop group, Yerba Buena; also, Blake has recorded soundtracks (most recently on El Cantante starring Marc Anthony/Jennifer Lopez). The multi-talented musician is entering his third season as a member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live Band. About the new recording, Shayari, Blake says, “This record is more introspective than earlier projects. It’s an acoustic collection of trios. Compositionally, it lends itself to some of the ideas introduced on my most recent recording, Sonic Tonic. I worked with Michael Cain to put this recording together; everything stemmed from us trying to find people to collaborate with to create a distinct, aural setting not unlike Sonic Tonic.”