Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound

Endlessly swinging and versatile behind the drum kit but also savvy as a leader and composer, Johnathan Blake has long had the stuff of a marquee artist. With Homeward Bound, his fourth album overall, the sideman to Kenny Barron, Tom Harrell, and countless others lands on Blue Note, leading his Pentad quintet with both a sense of urgency and a commitment to melodic beauty. Fellow Blue Note artists Joel Ross and Immanuel Wilkins, on vibes and alto sax respectively, generate the expressive heat and tonal brilliance for which they’re renowned, while pianist David Virelles and bassist Dezron Douglas enhance every textural element and lissome groove. The title track is in tribute to Ana Grace Márquez-Greene, daughter of acclaimed saxophonist Jimmy Greene, who lost her life in the Sandy Hook school shooting and inspired Greene’s own Beautiful Life albums. Where words fail, one hopes that music can point toward healing. Blake’s statement, full of empathy and humility, is especially moving in that regard.

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