Bobby Blackston Band  - Elevations


This is the story about lost and found. In 1997 American composer, keyboardist and bassist Mike McEvoy and guitarist Bobby Blackston recorded the album Elevations. Among other musicians drummers Chris Taylor (Roachford), Crispin Taylor (Galliano, Push),  Walfredo Reyes jr. (Santana, Joe Sample), bass players  Gary Brown, Scott Firth plus horn players Iain Dixon (Mike Walker), Jacko Peake (Push, Paul Weller), Gerard Presencer (US3, Herbie Hancock) and Chris Margery (Incognito) joined this project. Soon after the mixing sessions ended, the tapes went missing while in transit to the USA, and were undiscovered for almost 10 years. They mysteriously appeared in a New York City basement last year. The album is available now at CDBaby. When critics write,  the album will stand the test of time, they don't know how right they are. 

Who is this mysterious Bobby Blackston? He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA). He cut his teeth playing with covers bands in R n' B clubs across the states during the 1970s and 80s. Made his way to Europe in 1991 where he spent a 10 year period busking in Paris, jamming with African drummers in Senegal and finally made this album. Although this project was recorded by the band named after Bobby Blackston, it's the brainchild of Mike McElvoy who penned all tracks.

The music of the album reminds me on many acid jazz projects I listened in the past years (Chris Bangs, Duncan Millar, Nite Flyte, Duboniks). The album developed in this music soundscape and was inarguably influenced by the nu jazz scene. Fly Into The Rainbow has this unbelievable ease of guitar sound presenting a sultry melody with sparkles of improvisation framed by a constant bongo beat and Chris Taylor's driving drums.

On Groove Into The Dawn Bobby Blackston is supported by Chris Margery (sax), Damon Brown (trumpet) and Neil Sidwell (trombone) in the style of Incognito. The horns are transporting the melody, while Bobby Blackston is garnishing the main theme with more expressions.

Freedom Wave has the original beat we find today's on many chill-out albums. Bobby Blackston is interacting with this beat before he starts new improvisations.

Pacific Reflections is featuring the second horn section encompassing Ed Jones (sax), Gerard Presencer (trumpet) and Neil Seidwell (trombone). The tune has some acid jazz and Latin flavor seamlessly melted to a great sound.

Something In The Past, a slow melody in the quality of a classic guitar tune sets new marks. Mike McEvoy is an excellent composer. Awesome!

Ripples Of Summer is a romantic duet between Bobby Blackston's guitar and Iain Dixon's sax. A mellow and sultry melody.

Grey Noon is a further slow tune featuring Iain Dixon on soprano sax. Somehow in a melodramatic mood.

The funky jam starts with Midnight Shaker featuring Randall Bramblett on sax. Randall toured and recorded with Steve Winwood, Greg Allman, Roger Glover and many more. He has also released some solo albums (That Other Mile, Light of the Night, See Through Me, No More Mr. Lucky and Thin Places).

More funky stuff runs on Keep It On with a dynamic bass line and anew Bobby Blackston in best form.

Chicken Lickin' finishes the funky section of the album with a furious show-down.

The final tunes are an acoustic guitar version of Fly Into The Rainbow and the Junction 7 version of Freedom Wave.

This album is like an excavated treasure. A real enrichment for the acid and smooth jazz scene. Dig it!




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  • Title: Elevations
    Artist: Bobby Blackston Band
    Year: 2007
    Length: 0:55:03
    Genre: Smooth Jazz
    Label: Rezzonator Music

    01 Fly into the Rainbow [3:48]
    02 Groove into the Dawn [4:23]
    03 Freedom Wave [4:36]
    04 Pacific Reflections [4:48]
    05 Something in the Past [4:11]
    06 Ripples of Summer [4:45]
    07 Grey Noon [4:20]
    08 Midnight Shaker [4:04]
    09 Keep It On [4:08]
    10 Chicken Lickin' [5:17]
    11 Fly into the Rainbow (Acoustic Guitar Version) [4:10]
    12 Freedom Wave (Junction 7 band version) [6:33]