Bassist Alex Blake, born in Panama City, Panama, has a revolutionary playing style and technique distinctly his own. He combines innovative strumming, rapid lyrical notations and percussive slaps on his bass to create a unique and compelling sound. Some have called him “an entire rhythm section”.
Alex Blake’s talent is measured by the plenitude of masters who have called upon him over his more than forty-year career for his inventive and passionate playing. In addition to having played with Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Sun Ra, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Lenny White, Stan Getz, Harry Belafonte, and the Manhattan Transfer. Alex is a long-time member of NEA Jazz Master Randy Weston’s African Rhythms. In demand for recording, festivals, concerts and clubs both nationally and internationally, Alex leads his own group, The Alex Blake Collective, comprised of notable, eclectic musicians.
For the entire illustrious history of bass player Alex Blake, click here
World renowned double bassist Alex Blake was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award and inducted into the Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame and Museum by the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium on April 28th, 2011 at the Brooklyn Historical Society.
The Lifetime Achievement Award acknowledges a “master musician who continues to play" and contribute to the arts as an ongoing inspiration for other musicians and future talent. View award page.
Alex Blake was born in Panama where cultural diversity is celebrated and explored, a worldly awareness and openness has long been a force behind his artistic expression. His father was supportive and as a musician himself, an inspiration for the young Alex by introducing the trumpet to him as his first instrument. Noting his son’s immediate talent, his father cemented his future by dreaming that Alex would become a world renowned artist–on the bass. Alex had a strong desire for playing the guitar, since rock n roll was the hot rage, but he quickly adapted to the upright bass with his own expressive form, technique, and imagination. Beginning with the Latin style Ampeg Bass, a slimmer version of the classical upright, Alex began learning Latin, salsa, bossa nova and other styles of music while developing a signature technique of playing the instrument
"It turns out that bassist Alex Blake is a percussion section unto himself. His dominant foot stomping was tireless, commanding, and engaging. Against this obstinate continuum, he provided a mix of elemental drum sounds through a range of dazzling techniques. Subtle bongo sounds rippled from the fingers of his left hand tapping gently on the neck of his instrument. Louder accents and percussive pops sprang from the palm of his right hand as he slapped here and there along the entire length of the fingerboard. For the most exclamatory, he’d pluck the lowest string with such force that it created a resounding whack akin to the crack of a whip.
While accompanying Weston, Blake proved himself a repository of provocative rhythms, often strumming the bass as though it were a guitar. He coupled this technique along with double and triple stops in order to create chords, most notably in his solos. And he had one more trick up his sleeve, both figuratively and literally. He wore a smooth metal bracelet on his right wrist. Whenever he wanted a loud smack to punctuate a phrase, he would slap the lower part of the fingerboard with the bracelet simulating a rim shot on a snare drum. It clearly was yeoman’s duty, and, as Weston gazed at him bemused, the array of sounds Blake achieved was masterful. He threw himself bodily into each piece like a whirling dervish with an intensity that left him visibly winded. The audience erupted repeatedly into spontaneous applause."
Reviewed by Donald K. Baker,
Review: Alex Blake Performs at The Berkshire Museum’s
Little Cinema Auditorium Alongside Randy Weston
"Blake's remarkable soloing on “African Sunrise” employed every imaginable aspect of his instrument. Tapping on the wood, strumming, sliding his fingers up and down the strings, scatting along with his bass lines, he displayed incredible virtuosity combined with inventive musicality in a fashion that was stunningly entertaining.”
Don Heckman, The Los Angeles Times
"Blake cites Richard Davis, Jimmy Garrison, Reggie Workman as bass playing influences, and also Jimi Hendrix and Eric Dolphy. Despite having a strong background in Latin music, however, Blake’s compositions don’t reflect that experience; but his bass playing does. “It’s a strumming technique; it’s like having a guitar and congas and putting them together with the bass. It’s a construct of strumming and playing the congas; that’s the percussive side of my playing. That’s the concept of my playing.”
Christopher Porter, The Jazz Times
Alexblakebass.com was developed in part, as a case study by the Hearst Center For Creative Strategies™, in collaboration with Visual Champagne™ (visualchampagne.com).
The content was conceptualized to express and expand story elements that define the legacy of Alex Blake. As a brand, Mr. Blake is known internationally for his ingenuity, and for the inspiration that transcends his mastery on stage.