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Arts Desk
Every week on the air there's a special focus on one particular jazz album. Check them all out here!

Jazz Album of the Week: Drummer Mike Clark Brings Jazz Royalty To The Iridium On Indigo Blue

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October 21, 2019. Drummer Mike Clark made a name for himself as a “drummer’s drummer” when he appeared on Herbie Hancock’s album Thrust back in 1974. Since then, he went on to make music with some of the biggest names in the jazz world. On Indigo Blue: Live at the Iridium, Clark brings together jazz royalty to effortlessly deliver some high-caliber jazz.

The album is mostly originals composed by saxophonist Rob Dixon or pianist Antonio Farao, which are beautifully executed by the likes of bassist Christian McBride, trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonist Donald Harrison. I’m guessing that Clark knew what he was doing when he enlisted a multi-genre “Super Bassist,” a Brecker brother and “The Big Chief of Congo Square” (two of whom were Jazz Messengers).

On Farao’s “Black Inside,” the piano and McBride’s bass take us on a blues walk, only to have the horns simultaneously take us to another level with their agility. Another of his compositions, “Sweet,” is exactly just that – a beautiful little ballad that manages to tug on the heartstrings while keeping the listener anticipating the next note (or player).

Two Monk tunes made the cut as well – “Straight No Chaser” and “Well You Needn’t,” and Antonio Farao used these opportunities to show his chops. His playing on both of these are absolutely killer, as any pianist would aim for while paying tribute to Monk, but there is something special going on here. Maybe it was his bandmates or the room at the Iridium, but something made this guy go all out, to the delight on anyone who has a chance to hear this.

And, of course, the leader was at the helm of this super group, keeping time and doing things that most drummers strive for, yet never quite master. Mike Clark is not just a “drummer’s drummer,” he is a “musician’s drummer,” and his ability to assemble these musicians proves that. And, man, do they put on a great show.