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Walter Blanding Presents “Tick Tock”, with a Star Ensemble, at Dizzy’s Club "Coca-Cola"
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Walter Blanding Presents “Tick Tock”, with a Star Ensemble, at Dizzy’s Club "Coca-Cola"

- Jazz and Cabaret Corner

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Walter Blanding: “Tick Tock”

Walter Blanding, saxophone
Warren Wolf, vibraphone
Mark Whitfield, guitar
Bruce Harris, trumpet
Russell Hall, bass
Dan Nimmer, piano
Ulysses Owens, Jr., drums

Frederick P. Rose Hall
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola
Broadway at 60th Street
(Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola Website)
Roland Chassagne, Manager
Jason Olaine, Director of Programming & Touring
Desmond L. Prass, Asst. Manager
Michael Mwenso, JALC Curator & Programming Assoc.
L.A. Thompson, Venue Manager, Great Performances
Zooey T. Jones (with Danielle Bias) JALC Press

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 16, 2015

The first set at Dizzy’s Cub Coca-Cola tonight was completely packed for saxophonist, Walter Blanding’s recently composed work, “Tick Tock”. Members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, such as Mr. Blanding, are being showcased at Dizzy’s Club with their own ensembles and their own repertory. “Tick Tock” was commissioned by the Savannah Music Festival, and the piece is unrecorded, so it was very special to hear it performed tonight by Blanding’s band. Vibraphonist Warren Wolf, Pianist Dan Nimmer, Guitarist Mark Whitfield, Trumpeter Bruce Harris, Bassist Russell Hall, and Drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr., along with Mr. Blanding, have all been previously reviewed on these pages, in the Clubs, on CD reviews, and with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra or All-Stars.

Walter Blanding welcomed his fans and introduced “Tick Tock” as a musical journey to six lands with six merging compositions. Warren Wolf, on vibes, was featured early, followed by Bruce Harris’ trumpet riff and Dan Nimmer’s piano interludes. A smooth guitar theme then made way for sax, trumpet and bass. Mr. Blanding has written in generous, dynamic or mellow solos all around. Russell Hall’s bass solo was especially vibrant here. Mr. Harris’ wild trumpet soon played in staccato pulse, before the ensemble backed Mr. Blanding’s thematic riff, evocative of a Safari. Mark Whitfield played his guitar with rapid, resonant strings, before Ulysses Owens’ drum interlude, seemingly marking travel between two imaginary lands. The ensuing, thematic composition was filled with fervor and torment, with Mr. Nimmer’s searing keyboard solo that merges with Mr. Blanding’s atonal sax.

Drum sticks and clapping propelled the piece forward, with tropical clavé rhythms and pulsating piano chords. An Afro-Caribbean motif enveloped the Club, before the musical ambiance turned Bayou and Bourbon Street. Strutting and swaying, then bluesy and balmy, “Tick Tock” marked time. In fact, a Prokofiev, Cinderella-clock reference now advanced Mr. Blanding’s ensemble’s musical journey. To mix motifs, I heard references to Miles Davis here, as well. Mr. Blanding’s whispering sax followed, before a meandering, textured trumpet theme was quickly reinvented by Mr. Wolf on vibraphone. Walter Blanding has a bright future in musical composition, with such a complex and challenging work as “Tick Tock”.

Walter Blanding, saxophone; Warren Wolf, vibraphone;
Mark Whitfield, guitar; Bruce Harris, trumpet;
Russell Hall, bass; Dan Nimmer, piano;
Ulysses Owens, Jr. drums, at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Warren Wolf, vibraphone; Russell Hall, bass;
Ulysses Owens, Jr. drums, at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at