Blaze - Aural Karate




As music lovers, we often whine about our favorite artist being locked into a box musically and how they’re not being creative and constantly disappointing us. Are we willing to explore new artist by expanding our knowledge base for fresh and innovate music alternatives (?) Discovering new uncharted music requires, being open and receptive to change from the listeners’ perspective. One of the most intriguing discoveries for 2003 comes from a group called Blaze featuring Brannen Temple the founder and drummer for the group. “Aural Karate” is the most recording by the Austin, TX natives Blaze; their latest conquest is in pursuit of the groove wrapped in the garment of inventiveness and creative energy. Temple and company explores an accelerating menu of jazz, hip-hop and beyond transcending the norm of today’s music with finesse.   

The Players: Ephraim Owens ~ Trumpet and effects Pedal, Michael Malone ~ Tenor & Soprano Sax with effects /EWI, Marc Miller ~ Acoustic Bass w/effects pedal, NickNack ~ Turntables and Brannen Temple~ Drums, Samples and Percussion. Guest musicians: Steven Snyder ~ Acoustic Piano, Dave Palmer ~ Wurlitzer [tracks 2, 7] Pocket Therimen [7], Marty Muse ~ Pedal Steel Guitar [8], Jason McKenzie ~ Tabla [3] 

The Other Side opens the set with hip retro vibe. Brannen Temple steps in kickin’ funky grooves on his kit creating the perfect environment for accessibility. Marc Miller promptly adapts harmonically keeping time with his acoustic bass while trumpeter Ephraim Owens solos (with effects) are precisely what the good doctor ordered & saxophonist Michael Malone bridges the gaps with fluid tonality. 

Blaze changes course with the jazz inflicted “Time’s Up”. I dig it when artist flips the script musically creating a diverse platter of incredibly delicious improvisation as the band eloquently exchange solos leaving the listener savoring this moment while in the state of awe.  

Sultan Williams” falls in at the 3rd spot opening with a hint of mid-eastern embodied melody. The band accentuates the passages of improvisation borrowing from the school of Pharoah Sanders songbook of aural persuasion. Blaze, attacks Sultan with reverie, depth and conviction, they’re solos and interplay are simply out of this world.  

Blaze displays an astounding vocabulary individually as sidemen they’re solos are provocatively amazing as demonstrated on “Mustard Seed” (and all other tracks). The usage of strings coupled with Temple’s drumming at the beginning of Mustard Seed followed by Owens superb trumpet solos sets the tone and exceeds the limits of cool. Malone’s saxophone solos are in tact while NickNacks spins and scratches his turntables accurately shapes the tone of Mustard Seed.  

Blaze fuses the elements of jazz and hip-hop with a piece called “Slip-N-Slide”. They’re passion for the groove incomposes a dynamic force underneath it all sonically and harmonically. They’re interplay shines with brilliance therefore successfully achieving their goal of collectively as a unit.   

The Invisible features the impeccable stylings of pianist Steven Snyder. Conceptually this tune is yet another substantial arrangement that cleverly interweaves impressive solos by these accomplished musicians.  

At the seventh position is “Dig This” the band taps into the hip-hop groove with a more then satisfying taste of jazz layering over the top. Once mobilized by the essence of their groove you began too embrace the boldness of this musical collective called Aural Karate

Blaze dives deep into the heart of the Mississippi Delta with the blues drenched “Septeletwan”, trumpeter Ephraim Owens interpretation of the blues articulates with emotion and distinct tonality. Saxophonist Michael Malone offers us passionate solos that are more then appetizing and most definitely pleasing the most demanding listeners. Guitarist Marty Muse assures us that we’re indeed enveloped in the blues with his inspiring steel pedal guitar solos. 

Aural Karate” the title cut concludes this incredible journey with a prelude that solidifies the emotion of the band, an ending with a rumble of improvisational components accepting no substitutes! 

Blaze is strong and poised with attitude as a group and they’re new record Aural Karate is very exciting record too listen too. I’m still in awe by the phenomenal talent that Brannen Temple and the band. Through the spirit of innovation with creatively structured compositions, Blaze serves up a compelling and appetizing mix of jazz, hip-hop and beyond therefore, making this band one to watch out for now and in the future.  

Recommended for jazz lovers sliced with a dose of hip-hop!