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Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band to open the 40th annual Loyola Jazz Ensemble Festival with a free “Jazz Journey” concert

Loyola press release - March 3, 2009

Internationally acclaimed jazz percussionist Brian Blade and The Fellowship Band will kick-off the 40th annual Loyola University Jazz Ensemble Festival with a “Jazz Journey” concert at Loyola University New Orleans on Thursday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, however you must have a ticket to enter. For tickets, call 504-865-2100.

The 75-minute performance will take place at Roussel Performance Hall, located in the Communications/Music Complex, on Loyola’s main campus.

Led by Blade on drums, the Fellowship will feature works from “Season of Changes,” named one of 2008’s top albums by JazzTimes.

The lineup of Fellowship, Blade’s band, is as potent as its leader’s musical skills: Jon Cowherd, piano; Melvin Butler, tenor and soprano sax; Myron Walden, alto sax; and Roland Guerin, bass.

The evening begins with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis’ album masterpiece, “Kind of Blue,” by the Tony Dagradi Sextet in a 30-minute set. The recording will be performed live, in its entirety with original arrangements by Dagradi, Rex Gregory, Jamelle Williams, Michael Pellera, Roland Guerin and Troy Davis.

Presented as part of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s “Jazz Journey” series, the concert is co-presented by the Contemporary Arts Center’s “New Orleans Music” series and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance. The performance is also sponsored in part by the New Orleans Foundation, Phelps Dunbar, Loyola University and Loyola Jazz Club.

Louisiana-born, Brian Blade grew up in Shreveport and then New Orleans, where he distilled the unique drumming styles and musical heritage of the nation’s spiritual underbelly into a powerfully swinging percussive trademark. Nurtured under the watchful eyes of Ellis Marsalis and New Orleans Dixie-drum masters Johnny Vidacovich and Herlin Riley, Blade learned to find his ‘knit in the blanket’ of sounds and styles.

Widely respected in the jazz world as drummer-composer-leader of Brian Blade and The Fellowship Band, Blade is also a member off Chick Corea and John McLaughlin’s Five Peace Band. Blade is also the drummer for many heroes of the music world, including Daniel Lanois, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Wayne Shorter, Seal, Bill Frisell and Emmylou Harris.

Blade has shown deep musical instincts and a phenomenal gift for playing music texturally, both thick and thin, on the drums. He makes music that exists beyond borders. Spirituality, sensitivity, honesty, loyalty — all these traits feed the theme of the Brian Blade Fellowship.

“I want the music to be a fellowship. That’s what you want from the world as a whole. I want the music to project that kind of togetherness. This ideal of fellowship is something I grew up with. I just want to extend the good memories,” Blade said.

Blade will release “Mama Rosa,”his first recording as a singer, guitarist, and songwriter, on Tuesday, April 21. The album is a revealing journey through a 13-song cycle about family, loved ones, travels and a sense that these things have to be shared.

In addition to his talents as a drummer, Blade has been writing and recording original songs with words for as long as he’s been making music. “Mama Rosa” grew naturally from the four-track home demos that he’s recorded over the years. Initially, Blade felt that these songs would never be heard by anyone else. But after encouragement from long time friend, Daniel Lanois, these home recordings became the cornerstones for “Mama Rosa.”

Inspired by family, faith, and home, Blade named the album after his grandmother, Rosa, who is the subject of the album’s vivid opening track, “After the Revival.” Another such song of memories is titled “Second Home,” a tribute to Blade’s teacher, Johnny Vidacovich, and the city of New Orleans.

For more information, contact Holly Wallace with the Monk Institute at hwallace@monkinstitute.org or call 504-865-2100