T.K. Blue | Latin Bird (Avail Now)

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“Latin Bird” Is Motéma Music Debut by Alto Saxophonist T.K. Blue

As the New York-born son of parents
from Jamaica and Trinidad, and a mainstay of jazz master Randy Weston’s
band since 1980, T.K. Blue is profoundly fluent in the various musical
styles of Africa and the African Diaspora. On his new CD “Latin Bird,”
which will be released March 8 by Motéma Music, he applies those skills
and sensibilities to the music of Charlie “Bird” Parker, one of his
major early inspirations.

Richmond, CA (PRWE February 11, 2011

T.K. Blue’s new CD “Latin Bird,” his first for Motéma Music
and ninth as a leader, takes the alto saxophonist back to his musical
and personal beginnings. Charlie “Bird” Parker was a major early
inspiration for T.K., and eight of Parker’s classic compositions are
ingeniously reworked in Afro-Cuban, Caribbean, Brazilian, and New
Orleans second-line rhythms.

The New York-born son of parents from Jamaica and Trinidad, and a
mainstay of jazz master Randy Weston’s band since 1980, Blue is
profoundly fluent in the various musical styles of Africa and the
African Diaspora. “Barbados” is given a calypso arrangement and “Donna
Lee” is played as a samba, while “Chi Chi,” “Si Si,” and “Buzzy” utilize
a two-three clave. Also in the program is a gorgeous reading of “’Round
Midnight,” the saxophonist’s all-time favorite ballad, as well as “He
Flew Away Too Soon,” a solo alto saxophone improvisation dedicated to
trombonist Benny Powell. Blue’s longtime friend and Weston band mate,
Powell had been scheduled to play on “Latin Bird” but died a few days
before the session.

Blue’s band for the occasion consists of pianist Theo Hill (“I’m
intrigued by his sound, maturity, and creativity”), esteemed colleague
Essiet Essiet on bass, Willie Martinez on drums and timbales (also part
of T.K.’s previous album), and percussionist Roland Guerrero—the same
quintet (with James Weidman filling in for Hill) who performed in
December at the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture in Senegal,
where Blue also performed with Weston. Special guests on “Latin Bird”
include the invaluable drummer Lewis Nash, heard on two selections, and
trombonist and shell-blower Steve Turre, who contributed to three
others.

Born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, T.K. Blue began gigging
around New York City in the mid-1970s with the Natives, a group led by
South African pianist Ndikho Xaba. Through Xaba, he met Abdullah Ibrahim
(then known as Dollar Brand) and joined his group in 1977. He spent
three years touring the world with Ibrahim, with whom he recorded three
albums.

Since 1980, Blue has been a member of Randy Weston’s band and
currently serves as its musical director. “I’m indebted to him
tremendously,” Blue says of the pianist. “He showed me a lot of things
about life and how to be a man and also how to seek my heritage and find
out about Africa.”

Blue spent much of the 1980s living in Paris and continued performing
with Weston, who was also a resident of France. “There were a lot of
African people there, which was attractive to me because I wanted to
learn about my roots,” he says. “My dad and my grandfather were from
Jamaica, but they used to talk to me a lot about Africa.”

The saxophonist, who played in Paris with musicians from throughout
Africa, as well as from Brazil, Martinique, and Guadeloupe, made his
first album there in 1986. Titled “Egyptian Oasis,” the disc came to the
attention of the United States Information Agency in France and led to
three State Department-sponsored tours of Africa for Blue and his band.

Since returning home to New York in 1990, Blue has continued
performing and recording with his own groups and with Weston and worked
with a wide range of jazz and world artists from Bobby McFerrin and
Pharoah Sanders to Ghanaian drummer Yacub Addy’s Odadaa. A graduate of
New York University who later earned a Master’s in Music Education from
Teachers College at Columbia University, Blue has for the last three
years been Director of Jazz Studies at Long Island University’s C.W.
Post Campus.

The saxophonist is looking forward to bringing the music from “Latin
Bird” to the stage. Upcoming shows include Wed. 4/13 at the Iridium in
New York, and Fri-Sat. 5/20-21 at Twins in Washington, DC. (Blue will
also appear with his quartet at An Die Musik in Baltimore on Fri. 3/18.)

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