Having spent last Saturday looking at the latest project from saxophonist David Sanborn, today we're checking in on another alto player from St. Louis, Oliver Lake. This particular weekend, the former member of the Black Artists Group and co-founder of the World Saxophone Quartet is out in Oakland at a venue called Duende, doing four shows in four days with four different configurations of musicians.
More generally, Lake has been staying active both in the physical world, where he gigs and records as a solo act and with several different ensembles, and online, where he frequently communicates with fans via Twitter and Facebook and posts videos to his YouTube channel.
Last September, Lake, who now lives in Montclair, NJ, celebrated his 70th birthday with a series of performances at the Jazz Standard in New York. One of those shows featured Lake's big band, and today we've got four clips of that group for you to peruse, starting up top with a version of the leader's composition "Clicker."
Down below, you can see them perform "Is It Real," "Drum Thing," and "Creole Talkin'" which features an interesting look at Lake directing the group's punctuations of a long, freebop solo by Jason Marshall on baritone sax, followed by a section of straight-ahead ensemble playing that evokes a classic Swing Era sound. (For more of the the Oliver Lake Big Band, you can check out Lake's latest album Wheels, which came out earlier this year.)
Below that, there are two selections from the previous night's show by Lake's Organ Quartet, featuring Lake, trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, organist Jared Gold, and drummer Chris Beck playing Lake's "Dance Two" and "ETC." This group is essentially the same one that Lake brought to Jazz at the Bistro in 2009, though with East St. Louis native Russell Gunn on trumpet instead of Hendrix, and featured on his 2010 album Plan.
Three years later, we're still waiting. Given Lake's status as a highly accomplished, widely acclaimed elder statesman of the music, it seems slightly absurd that he - and we - would have to wait for more than four years between performances in his hometown, yet that's the situation. Here's hoping that one of our local presenters will remedy the omission sooner, rather than later.