Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band Biography

25 July 1970, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA. Blade began playing violin as a small child but as he entered his teens he switched to drums. He played in the church where his father was minister and also in a classical orchestra while still at school. In the late 80s he relocated to New Orleans, concentrating on playing drums in jazz after having briefly considered a career in sports. He played with various musicians including Ellis Marsalis, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, and Nicholas Payton. In New York he played with Harry Connick Jnr. and Kenny Garrett and gradually expanded his knowledge and his reputation owing to numerous recording sessions by a varied roster of artists from the worlds of jazz and pop. Among these artists are Garrett (playing on 1992’s Black Hope), Michael Brecker, Joshua Redman, Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello, Marianne Faithfull, David Berkman, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris and Seal, touring with the latter in 1999. A dynamic and thoughtful musician, Blade’s drumming sparked all these dates. In company such as this, while accommodating the musical needs of the moment, Blade uses his own musical voice, adapting it with great subtly so that neither he nor those that he accompanies lose their own identities.

The musician’s band, the Brian Blade Fellowship, formed in 1998, plays an attractive blend of post-bop jazz with strong leanings towards developing the writing skills of its members. Among the musicians in Fellowship are Jon Cowherd (piano), Chris Thomas (bass), Dave Easley (pedal steel guitar), and Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar). Saxophonists that have appeared in the band include Melvin Butler (tenor and soprano) and Myron Walden (alto and bass clarinet). Blade’s Fellowship toured Europe in 2000, winning many new followers for its leader. In performance, Blade’s masterly technique grants him the ability to do whatever he chooses. Somewhat unusually among band leaders, what Blade chooses to do is use these superlative skills to provide subtle support to his front line players. His elegance and restraint, all the more remarkable when one considers how some drummer leaders demand attention, contributes greatly to his growing reputation with audiences and fellow artists alike.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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