David Blake: Trio with Drew Gress & Ari Hoenig

David puts his tunes up-front for Gress & Hoenig and adds four pieces from the jazz canon

David Blake guitar
Photo: Claudia Arisso

New York-based, Vancouver-trained guitarist David Blake released his trio album with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Ari Hoenig on June 16, 2023.

David follows up his 2022 Cellar quintet album Fun House by returning to the format he had recorded with up to that point in Vancouver, on 2017's Sometimes I Get to Practice Flying (with Darren Radtke and Joe Poole) and his 2013 debut Next Year People (with Wynston Minckler and Dan Gaucher).

On Trio he puts his tunes up-front in the track sequence, brings the trio into four compositions from the jazz canon, and then closes with one more original. The bluesy lope of “Tenda Headed” is an enjoyable extension of his language beyond the previous trio records, while “Cedar Realm” and “Mr. Deng” hold close to the personal style he honed back then.

“Little Quarry” has artful orchestration and one of David’s finest recorded solos. The mood of his meeting with Gress and Hoenig – with each of the three players spread out more than a dozen years in age, and he as the leader being the youngest – is fun, supportive, and never too serious.

When arriving at the cover versions, it's worth the price of the album to hear David lead the rhythm section through ample choruses of walking blues time on “Mrs. Parker of K.C.” Then, “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love” has the solo guitar moment as an intro, showcasing the craft of David's guitar tone.

“Rain Check” – slightly downtempo from Joe Henderson, straight-8ths unlike And His Mother Called Him Bill – is the piece that David most thoroughly brings under his own lens. On the other hand, Wayne Shorter's “Night Dreamer” is taken far into fresh territory, a feature for Gress.

As we know from David's recent appearance with Fun House at the 2023 Vancouver International Jazz Festival, he is among our scene's superb guitarists of his generation, improving as a musician every year for over a decade straight; here's hoping he reconvenes this power trio for some gigs, and all the better if somehow one of them is up here.

Trio with Drew Gress & Ari Hoenig: Tenda Headed; Cedar Realm; Little Quarry; Mrs. Parker of K.C.; Duke Ellington's Sound of Love; Raincheck; Night Dreamer; Mr. Deng.Tenda Headed; Cedar Realm; Little Quarry; Mrs. Parker of K.C.; Duke Ellington's Sound of Love; Raincheck; Night Dreamer; Mr. Deng. (52:40)

Personnel: David Blake on guitar; Drew Gress on bass; Ari Hoenig on drums.