Michael Blanco: No Time Like the Present

Rich Perry: No Time Like the Present
Title: No Time Like the Present
Label: CD Baby

Bassist Michael Blanco understands the meaning of originality - tastefully rolling out your creative vision while keeping the customer satisfied. On No Time Like the Present (Nineteen-Eight), all nine tracks are by Blanco - a high-risk move, since originals by definition are foreign to the ear and often drag on. But Blanco has a skilled writing touch - he twice has received the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award. He also has assembled a terrific ensemble for this CD. Saxophonist John Ellis and guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg are the front line. Joining Blanco in the rhythm section are David Cook on piano and Mark Ferber on drums. Blanco's playing is strong, and his solos are solid and never overstay their welcome. And the sound of Ellis and Kreisberg together is gorgeous. A beautiful album with compositional depth and technical maturity. -- Marc Meyers, JazzWax.com A talented in-demand Broadway/jazz bassist, Michael Blanco's No Time Like the Present announces his second album as leader presenting a collection of refreshing new jazz originals offered by a dynamic quintet that features veteran saxophonist John Ellis and New York guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg among the cast. The two-time recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award, designs a sparkling session of riveting modern-style jazz not to be missed. Though it's Blanco's compositional skills that carry the date on this outing, the bassist's strong performance throughout is not to be dismissed as his solo performance on 'Postcard (for solo bass)' so aptly demonstrates. Overlooking the intimidating title ('Dutch Kills') of the opening track, the music reveals an elegant light texture marked by glowing solo statements from members of the band. The title piece is fast-paced and up-tempo featuring Ellis and Kreisberg trading salvos in the first burner of the disc. 'You Really Shouldn't' follows in much the same vein this time featuring pianist David Cook and drummer Mark Ferber providing the energy. Propelled by torrid tenor solos and strong guitar riffs, the fire seems to burn brightest on the hard-driving 'RSVP,' one of the bassist's finest compositions. Another outstanding score is the spacious 'Smithlike' featuring a superb bass solo from the leader and highlighting the saxophonist on the soprano. All is not hot and steamy however, as warm-toned solos from both guitarist and bassist bolster the light and beautiful 'Midnight,' one of several mid-tempo, even mellow mood pieces on the album. The enchanting 'Emily's Wedding' is a perfect example of some more tasteful light jazz perfect for a relaxing setting. Perhaps as a tip of the hat to saxophonist Ellis, the closing number, appropriately titled 'Ellis Island' serves as the swan song for the reed man but also includes dynamic solos from the guitarist as well as the leader. Michael Blanco is certainly one of the young guns in the jazz scene today and with No Time Like the Present brings the background bass to the front line of jazz. Comparisons to some of the finest jazz bassist in modern jazz such as Christian McBride, John Patitucci, Gary Peacock and Charlie Haden to name a few, are inevitable. His approach and clever charts can only serve to elevate his music and cement his reputation as an excellent composer and a bassist of note. Track Listing: Dutch Kills; No Time Like The Present; You Really Shouldn't; Midnight; RSVP; Smithlike; Emily's Wedding; Postcard (for solo bass); Ellis Island. Personnel: Michael Blanco: bass; John Ellis: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Jonathan Kreisberg: guitar; David Cook: piano; Mark Ferber: drums. -- Edward Blanco, AllAboutJazz.com Bassist Michael Blanco leads a melodious quintet with John Ellis/ts-ss, Jonathan Kreisberg/g, David Cook/p and Mark Ferber through a collection of impressive and invigorating originals. Lyrical and cheerful melodies like 'Dutch Kills' and the title track feature Ellis with a vibrant tone on his tenor, while his soprano on the strolling 'Smithlike' is strident and penetrating. An intriguing take on the standard 'Emily,' here titled 'Emily's Wedding' caresses the original theme with a couple extra layers of satin. Kreisberg's guitar tone and stylings are impressively on display on 'Midnight,' while the leader's molasses thick and sweet-toned bass is gorgeously spotlighted on 'Postcard.' This guy has a great instinct for flowing moments of notes in all the right places. -- George W. Harris, JazzWeekly.com MICHAEL BLANCO No Time Like The Present Nineteen-Eight Records Bassist Michael Blanco's second album as a leader titled No Time Like the Present, offers nine compositions by the young and talented musician. Hailing from the School of Creative and Performing Arts in San Diego, California, he moved to New York City in January of 2000. Since then, Blanco has played or recorded with several of the rising young stars of the New York City jazz scene and been a fixture in the orchestra pit of many a Broadway show, including The Book of Mormon and the revivals of stalwart shows like Grease and How to Succeed in Business. On No Time Like the Present he has assembled some stellar players, all making their mark in the New York music scene. They include the multi-reed player John Ellis, the guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg, the drummer Mark Ferber and the pianist David Cook. The music, all composed by the bassist, includes some interesting twists and turns, all executed with precision and taste. On 'Dutch Kills' you are treated to some tight front line playing by saxophonist Ellis and guitarist Kreisberg, two formidable musicians, who negotiate the quick paced lines of the melody with precision and uncanny unanimity. Blanco's bass solo is full and buoyant. Ellis is a master of fluidity on his solo and Kreisberg's comps are spot on. Mark Ferber's floating drums serves to anchor the piece without impeding it's flight. The title song 'No Time Like the Present' is another case in point. Blanco, Ferber and Cook set the ostinato vamp allowing Ellis and Kreisberg execute the darting melody line. After a sweeping guitar solo by Kreisberg that features some quixotic runs, the group takes off in a deeply swinging double time pace featuring Elllis' tenor. Ferber creates his own special magic with powerfully driving fills that float above it all to a tasty conclusion. 'You Really Shouldn't', though totally different, has the feel and swagger of Monk's 'Well You Needn't.' Kreisberg's electric guitar chords create some interesting discordant, Monkish-like sounds along the way as Ellis plays around the melody. Pianist Cook plays in his own disjunctive solo as Ferber and Blanco keep the rhumba beat. The dreamy 'Midnight' finds Kreisberg's using his echoed guitar to create a sensitive sound that lies somewhere between Dick Dale and Bill Frisell. Ferber is particularly subtle here laying down soft crashes in between delicate brush work and feathery rolls. Throughout the album the front line of Ellis on saxophone and Kreisberg on guitar are especially in tune with each other, showing impeccable timing in executing difficult lines in tandem. This is especially notable on tracks like 'RSVP' a medium tempo swinger that just nails it. Ferber and Blanco work so well together with such marvelous elasticity that they make the swing feel seem so easy to attain. On 'Smithlike' saxophonist John Ellis picks up his soprano, displaying some spidery lines that are light, soaring and carefree. Pianist Cook's solo is his most interesting on the album, moving back and forth on ideas before settling with a particular direction. Blanco has a strong bass solo where his fingers dance on his strings with warm, pliant pizzicato authority. The finale of the album is titled 'Ellis Island' which returns the band to the unison front line playing that seems to be it's forte. Jonathan Kreisberg ends the song with a cooking guitar solo that expands into a nice flurry of arpeggios, as Cook, Ferber and Blanco keep the rhythm cook

1.1 Dutch Kills
1.2 No Time Like the Present
1.3 You Really Shouldn't
1.4 Midnight
1.5 RSVP
1.6 Smithlike
1.7 Emily's Wedding
1.8 Postcard (For Solo Bass)
1.9 Ellis Island

Michael Blanco: No Time Like the Present

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