Byron Blackburn Byron Blackburn's Labor Day Session

When facing grief, loss and death, musicians have one special advantage: they can come together in the healing radiance of sound. Five California musicians knew they were losing a colleague and mentor as bassist Byron Blackburn's last days approached. What did they do? They got together with their beloved friend and made some truly soulful music. Saxophonists Jaroba, Tony Passarell and Phillip Greenlief weave melodic webs over Blackburn's insistent grooves. Drummer Tom Monson plays in and out of time simultaneously, commenting, underlining, supporting and generally keeping things happening. Ross Hammond's guitar adds swathes of colours and textures, either through effects-drenched drones or carefully sculpted lines that mesh effectively with what surrounds them. The five tracks clock in around 15 minutes, including a short one that briefly features Jaroba on bass clarinet. A loving tribute to, and celebration of, their comrade who passed away a scant two weeks after the recording, this is heartfelt music. (Prescott)