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What critics say about Eyes of the Elders:

  • "A famous mentor leaves his mark on Eyes of the Elders, the third album from saxist/flutist T. K. Blue (also known as Talib Kibwe, the name under which he released his first disc). Blue is best known as a mainstay in Randy Weston’s bands of the last decade. Weston, of course, helped jazz rediscover its African roots, and that influence has remained the major facet of his music. Blue follows Weston’s example by borrowing African tonalities for some of his own compositions, and by applying African and Afro-Caribbean rhythms to jazz standards (such as “Wee” on this disc). And by spotlighting vibist Stefon Harris on nearly half the album — most often on marimba, a cousin of the African balofon — Kibwe has crafted a pseudo-African milieu for the album as well. (This comes to the fore on the album’s three short interludes, each titled “Village Council,” and especially on “Rites of Passage,” a dervish duet for Harris, on marimba, and Blue, on kalimba, or thumb piano.) On both sax and flute, Blue evokes an equally penetrating tone that shapes his approach to improvisation. He rarely allows a passage to get so involved that it obscures his full, ripe sound. With an excellent supporting cast — including trumpeter Randy Brecker, drummer Jeff Watts, and pianists Joanne Brackeen and Eric Reed — he has produced a dynamic tribute to his musical and spiritual antecedents."
    --Neil Tesser, Jazziz Magazine, April 2001
  • "Having been influenced - both personally and historically - by jazz's elders, saxophonist Talib Kibwe shows a good deal of sagacity himself in bringing fresh perspectives to music steeped in tradition. With a remarkable ensemble of sidemen, he embarks on a musical journey that not only cuts across time but cultures too... There is a depth of feeling here that runs through it all that is uniquely T.K. Blue's"
    --Steve Jones, USA Today, January 30 2001

  • "Like Sonny Rollins, T.K. Blue (a k a Talib Kibwe) is an American saxophonist with West Indian parents, and like Rollins, Blue has allowed his island heritage to flavor his post-bop jazz albums. On Blue's latest release, Eyes of the Elders, the alto saxophonist makes that influence explicit with a lively calypso arrangement of Denzel Best's "Wee," the opening track. But even on the more straightforward jazz cuts that follow, a Caribbean spirit can be detected in the choice of instruments (marimba, flute, congas), in the lilting dance rhythms and in the joyful shouts of Blue's themes and solos. Blue has impressed critics and fellow musicians with his previous solo albums and his work with Abdullah Ibrahim and Randy Weston. On Eyes of the Elders, he goes after the broader jazz fan base with high-profile collaborators (Randy Brecker, Stefon Harris, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Lonnie Plaxico and Joanne Brackeen) and ear-grabbing tunes. It should work, because the all-star band grabs hold of the striking melodies and contagious rhythms (by Blue and by such "Elders" as Charles Mingus, John Coltrane and Benny Carter) and transforms them into a vigorous, improvised give-and-take."
    --Geoffrey Himes, The Washington Post, February 2000
  • "Eyes of the Elders is saxophonist and flutist T.K. Blue's second release as a leader on the Arkadia Jazz label, a collection of 13 songs that pertain to certain jazz elders — John Coltrane, Charlie Mingus, Benny Carter, and Denzel Best — who have inspired the artist along his path of musical growth. Infused with the creative influences T.K. Blue received as a result of living in Europe and traveling throughout Africa, the creative elements, circumstances, and events that shaped the concept for Eyes of the Elders are carefully arranged, composed, and masterfully played. Joined by such stellar players as Stefon Harris on vibraphones and marimba, Randy Brecker on trumpet; James Weidman, Eric Reed, and Joanne Brackeen on piano; Jeff ‘Tain Watts on drums; and Lonnie Plaxico on bass, T.K. Blue's saxophone, flute, and marimba playing is enhanced by their freedom of expression with the subtleties and nuances of the songs clearly explored. T.K.'s saxophone playing is brilliant on the title track and the great composition "Dance of the Nile," which has a kind of Arabic, North African desert feel with a nouveau swing beat. "Rites of Passage" features an excellent duet by Stefon Harris and T.K. Blue on marimba and kalimba, respectively, amid the floating mastery of Harris on vibes. Blue's excellent flute playing is realized on "Matriarch," a subtle, mysterious song filled with beautiful flute trills and floating melodies. When listened to in the context of the artist's emotional, spiritual, and musical maturation, Eyes of the Elders should continue to captivate the audiences that were affected by Another Blue as well as garner new fans throughout the global jazz community."
    --Paula Edelstein, All Music Guide, January 2001

What critics say about Another Blue:

  • "In every context, Kibwe (T.K. Blue) asserts himself as one of the brightest talents in jazz today."
    --Geoffrey Himes, The Washington Post
  • "On Another Blue, Kibwe (T.K. Blue) takes what he's learned from his mentor-friends and crafts it into a truly inspiring and individual vision of jazz."
    --James Lien, CMJ
  • "(T.K. Blue) blossoms on Another Blue from itinerant side man to brilliant leader. What a pleasant surprise."
    --S.D. Sweeney, Face Magazine
  • "T.K. plays with fire and imagination on his full arsenal of instruments."
    --JazzUSA
  • "Saxophone virtuoso Talib Kibwe, now known as T.K. Blue, imbues his playing with so much elation that even classics come to life with new vitality."
    --John Murph, The Washington Post
  • "Blue's voice on alto is highly distinctive. Whether on his main horn, soprano or flute, he inflects everything he plays with ebullience."
    --James Hale, downbeat
  • "Here (on Another Blue), Blue puts all of his savvy and years of shedding to fruition with this release on Bob Karcy's burgeoning Arkadia record label. Blue displays extraordinary flair and technical acumen and his soaring and engagingly melodic alto sax work speaks volumes. Despite his proficient technical gifts, Blue is a stickler for nuance and detail, and performs as if he were walking on water. No frills or hidden agendas here, this is….good jazz the way it's meant to be."
    --Glenn Astarita, www.allaboutjazz.com