Saturday, June 26, 2010

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Four views of Oliver Lake

This week, let's take a look at some video featuring saxophonist and former St. Louisan Oliver Lake, who recently created a YouTube channel for his work and has been posting all sorts of clips online.

A member of the Black Artists Group and a co-founder of the World Saxophone Quartet, Lake now lives in New Jersey but has performed in St. Louis in recent years with the WSQ, Trio 3 (with Andrew Cyrille and Reggie Workman), and with his own Organ Quartet. He's played many different types of music over the years - free jazz, reggae, funk, hard bop, and more - and at age 68, Lake continues to be involved in a variety of creative endeavors, encompassing improvised and composed music, spoken word, and visual art, too. (A painter since age 11, Lake has a gallery of some of his artwork on his website.)

As mentioned above, he has also posted a selection of choice clips on YouTube, and after perusing the archive, we've got four of them for you today. First up is a solo performance recorded in 1986 at an unspecified NYC location and titled "France Dance." It takes a minute or two for things to cohere, but once Lake gets some momentum going, the notes and inspiration both come in rapid flurries.

For clip #2, we fast-forward two and a half decades to another solo performance, a piece titled "Rocket" that was recorded March 26, 2010 at John Zorn's NYC venue The Stone. The video quality fluctuates a bit on this clip, but it's interesting to contrast this solo performance with the much earlier one in the first clip.

The third video, "Spirit" was recorded in 1998 in Seattle, and features a bit of spoken word performance as well as Lake's saxophone. The fourth and final clip, recorded in April 2007, features Lake engaged in a duo improvisation with guitarist Eugene Chadbourne, and it's a treat to hear these two resourceful veterans bob, weave, and play off of each other.

Lake's most recent CD, Plan, came out in May, 2010 and and features his Organ Quartet. No word as to when he may returning to St. Louis to perform again, but here's hoping it won't be too long.

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