Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade: Children of the Light

Three jazz greats step out on their own as a trio for the first time after years working together as part of the Wayne Shorter Quartet.

Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade

Children of the Light

Label: Mack Avenue
US Release Date: 2015-09-18
UK Release Date: 2015-09-18

Given the amount of time they’ve spent together in the employ of Wayne Shorter, it comes as somewhat of a surprise that Children of the Light represents their first outing as a trio. Having made up the remaining three quarters of the Wayne Shorter Quartet, they’ve backed the tenor great for over a decade while also exploring their own individualized voices. Here, they step out on their own as a cohesive unit of some of the best players on their respective instruments working today.

Opening with the title track, a sprightly, rhythmically intricate mid-tempo number with occasional Spanish flares, the trio of pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade announce themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Intricately wound and full of dynamic and rhythmic shifts, “Children of the Light” proves to be a challenging opening number as the trio work their own unique lines within the primary melodic theme. It’s far from complementary playing, but it also feels as though they are sorting each other out, looking for their respective role within the group. Coming together for a handful of unison lines at the song’s mid-point, they begin to gradually settle in, comfortable with the improvisatory direction ahead.

Similarly, “Sunburn and Mosquito (dedicated to Carolina Perez)” functions as a sort of playful opening challenge for the trio as they begin to feel each other out. Heavily syncopated and with strikingly dissonant piano lines from Perez, it requires a clockwork-like precision that largely leaves the listener slightly on edge as they navigate Perez’s intricate melodic and rhythmic interplay. As with the preceding track, this too ends with an abrupt unison full stop. After the somewhat playful nature of the performance, these somewhat curt conclusions can be a bit off-putting.

It isn’t until “Lumen” that the trio really seems to hit their stride. With Perez on both acoustic and electric piano and Patitucci switching over to electric bass, the track sings and grooves in a way that goes beyond the somewhat perfunctory approach of the preceding standard trio tracks. By switching up the traditional instrumentation from that of strictly acoustic to a mix of the two, they manage a new dynamic that helps the melody stand out just that much more. Furthermore, as the track progresses you can actually hear to group starting to loosen up and have fun with the session, leaning into the rhythmic interplay and melodic give-and-take to create a sense of playfulness often lacking in overly traditional or reverential treatments of the form.

“Light Echoes-Dolores” opens with a bit of free playing from all three before locking into a central motif that features unison melodic lines from Perez and Patitucci. Coming as it does after a pair of stately ballads in “Within Everything” and “Milky Way", “Light Echoes-Dolores” is a welcome change of pace and again finds the trio locking in and playing off one another. Blade here functions more to color the performances, artfully filling in the gaps with subtle rhythmic flourishes while Patitucci serves as the song’s pulse with a deep ostinato groove. In this, “Light Echoes-Dolores” plays more as a piano/drums duet as both Perez and Blade continually complement each other’s performance, creating a sort of frenetic dialogue between the two.

At nearly ten minutes, “Light Echoes-Dolores” essentially functions as the album’s centerpiece, allowing ample room for all three players to stretch out. Following the Perez/Blade interplay, all three join in on an abrupt stop-start figure that serves to break the preceding tension and allow the performance a bit of breathing room before embarking on an extended frenetic solo from Perez. Still functioning as the track’s timekeeper and center, Patitucci cedes the spotlight to Blade and Perez as the two continue to spar over the central motif.

With each afforded a chance to shine on their respective instruments, Patitucci takes center stage on the elegiac “Ballad for a Noble Man". Switching back to electric, he delivers an intricate and melodically precise solo introductory performance backed by subtle strings before Perez and Blade gradually enters to add further layers of texture and nuance to the piece. Employing classical flourishes, Perez allows the track to build as Blade utilizes the full range of his toms and cymbal swells as the piece expands and grows before settling into a hushed outro restatement of the opening theme.

It’s in these textural variations that Children of the Light truly succeeds. Transcending mere piano trio, it serves as a showcase for three virtuoso musicians exploring their instruments together. Closing track “African Wave” brings back the instrumental lineup of “Lumen” with equally successful results. Here, Blade utilizes auxiliary percussion to help supplement his kit, adding an additional layer to the intricate interplay between Patitucci and Perez. Used more to add color, the electric piano takes a backseat to Perez’s acoustic piano lines while Patitucci splits the difference, jumping in from time to time on breakneck unison lines that seem to come out of nowhere. In these little thrilling moments Children of the Light is largely a rousing success.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.