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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Grammy Recipient Brian Blade


Firmly rooted in family, Blade keeps his heart close to home

Brian Blade, one of the world’s top-tier jazz musicians, travels the globe (this month, Netherlands, Japan) performing with pianist Chick Corea and other artists. Blade was a recent recipient of a Grammy as part of the Wayne Shorter Quartet (Best Jazz Instrumental Album, “Emanon”). He was the artistic director and a performer in the new concert album and film, “Joni 75,” a tribute to Joni Mitchell held in Los Angeles on her 75th birthday.

Between his global jaunts, he returns to Broadmoor, Shreveport. A singularly humble composer-performer, Blade’s priority aside from music is family.

In a recent interview, he was more interested in honoring his father, the Rev. Brady Blade Sr., than in touting his accolades in jazz. NY Times critic Nate Chinen is a writer who has recognized that tendency: “Brian Blade,” he wrote, “is one of the most unaffect edly charis matic musicians in jazz.”

The senior Blade, a towering man with a voice that ranges from a whisper to a roar, will celebrate his 80th birthday in May. There will be a musical at the Zion Baptist Church, 3038 Hollywood Ave. He has been pastor of the Zion congregation since 1961.

Father and son perform together to this day. They have created an artistichistoric-cultural performance called Hallelujah Train that presents the Blades (including Brady Blade Jr.), the Zion choir and choir director-organist Sereca Robinson Henderson in concert. Having performed at Duke University, at Centenary College, Lincoln Center Out of Doors and other venues, The Hallelujah Train has dates ahead in St. Louis and Houston.

Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band is the principal vessel for the Shreveporter’s compositions. With titles like “Red River Revel” and “Stoner Hill” (Blade’s earliest home was on Holly Street, Stoner Hill) and “If You See Lurah” (today Lurah, an artist, is his wife), the Fellowship Band has become a major force in modern jazz (Grammy nominations in 2015 and in 2019). The quintet has continued intact for over 20 years. They will soon release an album, their sixth, recorded at the historic Fantasy Studio, Berkeley, Calif.

As a drummer Blade is steadily on tour with jazz figures such as Joshua Redmon, Bill Frizell and Daniel Lanois. Yet he has one more gig: It is an acoustic guitar project called Mama Rosa. Wielding an old Gibson guitar, Blade sings from his album of personal stories, “Mama Rosa.” His rolling compositions sound like tunes by Neil Young.


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