Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Album Review: Elijah Jamal Balbed- Lessons From The Streets

Elijah Jamal Balbed
Lessons From The Streets
*** out of *****

The Washington DC born and current Queens NY resident Elijah Jamal Balbed brings with him a keen sense of historical understanding by way of his soulful saxophone. His newest effort is a tribute to his home town called Lessons From The Streets and while in the past he has played Go-Go music, here he sticks to traditional jazz roots

The opening "Butch Warren" is a straight ahead work out that fills the ears with lush warm sounds. Supporting Balbed are: Alex Norris-Trumpet, Samir Moulay-Guitar, Alex Brown-Piano, Kris Funn-Bass, Corey Fonville-Drums and Warren Wolf on Vibraphone. The collective gel almost effortlessly on originals like "Sonny Suspended" and the piano led "What Matters Most- In Life".

The album has a few reinterpreted covers from Balbed and they honor the originals. The excellent selection of Cedar Walton's killer "Firm Roots" plays a bit more grounded then the original, but still possesses that driving energy while Wayne Shorter's classic "Infant Eyes" gets stretched and Bronislav Kaper's "On Green Dolphin Street" gets chilled out superbly.

The central focal points on the disk are the two original compositions "Lessons From The Streets" and "From The Streets To The Mansion". The title track comes across as a bit restrained and while Wolf's vibes spice it up it, the track plays overly long. On the other hand "From The Streets To The Manison" is over a minute longer but never feels that way. From the opening bass solo the track crackles with energy and provides a highlight of a solid album.  

Balbed clearly revers the old style, but is never afraid to add his touch, something all great jazz players need. Lessons From The Streets were clearly well learned.
A more traditional bandcamp find, but a good one none the less. Support the artist, grab the disk and stream it below or peep some video:

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