Happy Birthday Alex Blake

December 21, 1951

 

A celebration of the life of the veteran bassist

Bassist Alex Blake was born as Alejandro Blake Fearon Jr. on December 21, 1951 in Panama City, Panama.

He moved with his family to the United States when he was seven and grew up in Brooklyn.

Blake started out playing trumpet before switching permanently to the bass, originally playing a variety of Latin music, becoming a professional musician when he was 12.

He worked early on with Mongo Santamaria, Machito and Celia Cruz, and at 16 toured Europe with Sun Ra (with whom he made his recording debut); he also played with Dizzy Gillespie.

From then on Blake was in great demand, working with Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner and Pharoah Sanders.

Blake was particularly busy during the 1970s, becoming an important part of the fusion world while working with Billy Cobham and Lenny White; since that time he has performed with such notables as Sonny Rollins (appearing on 1976’s The Way I Feel), Art Blakey, Don Pullen, Stan Getz, Max Roach, the Manhattan Transfer, Astrud Gilberto, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Betty Carter, Joey DeFrancesco, Chico Freeman, Yusef Lateef, Frank Lowe, Carmen Lundy, and James Moody.

Alex Blake is perhaps best known for his work with pianist Randy Weston (on and off during 1991-98 and fulltime from 1998 until Weston’s death in 2018) and continues to lead his own group, the Alex Blake Collective.

Here is a dazzling clip of Blake taking a creative unaccompanied bass solo in 2013.

For more info please visit AlexBlakeBass.com

-Scott Yanow

Subscribe to Jazz on the Tube