With toms as if tolling bells on 'Lament for Lo' it's a sombre start to Passage two years on from Homeward Bound and every bit as accomplished, with the drummer's band Pentad again in tow. There's glorious high register work from alto ace Immanuel Wilkins on the title track and the way the band knit together, piquant tones from vibist Joel Ross, rugged support from pianist David Virelles and tonal mastery from bassist Dezron Douglas part of the recipe it's a textbook pushing forward from a progressive hard bop base into new space. Blake dedicates the album to his father violinist John Blake Jr whose own tune 'Passage' gives the album its title. Once again Blake's skill at curating a sound that comes over as very much his own emerges - full of humane touches and blistering musicianship, it's an album to spend quality time profitably with.
Johnathan Blake, photo: David Ellis