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From DigStation:  
Blackman, Murray, Russo have put out a splendidly fresh modern jazz recording. More than half original material from the pianist and the rest a unique mix of Beatles,Brahms, and odd-metered renditions of standards. Donny McCaslin is featured on nearly half of the selections. Rising star vocalist Margret Grebowicz adds her breathy wordless vocals to the Blackman original 5 Streams as well!

From CD Baby:
Staples around the thriving Baltimore/Washington D.C. jazz scene for 20 years, Blackman Murray Russo trio has captured a delightfully fresh and well-executed musical product. Recorded at the famed Bennett Studios in NJ and featuring modern horn great Donny McCaslin, they explore mostly the unique musical approach of the pianist, Alan Blackman. His originals occupy almost half of the musical ground here, and they are varied in scope and interesting from both a rhythmic and harmonic vantage point. From the almost middle eastern opening version of a Brahms Waltz through the groovy standard (with some nice new chords) I've Never Been in Love to a 9/4 fender rhodes inflected tour de force on You've Changed, this band is tight and the solos are at a very accomplished and individual level. Highly recommended if you are tired of boring smooth jazz and bored with tired traditional swing.

From All About Jazz:
Featuring Blackman, bassist Max Murray, and drummer Frank Russo, the trio is fueled not only by their individual skills but the chemistry that exists within them as a unit. On their version of Peter Gabriel's 1986 smash “Sledgehammer," the group jams in breathtaking fashion. Blackman's jumpy piano, Murray's thumping bass, and Russo's jumpy drums perhaps raise even more R&B intensity than Gabriel's original, and guest Donny McCaslin's swirling, soaring saxophone knocks it out of the park. The band is having so much fun covering the Gabriel hit that its inclusion doesn't feel like it was for commercial considerations; in fact, it's an accessible way of displaying their collective strengths.

McCaslin's presence adds some spice to the record. On the title track, his saxophone weaves a fetching melody that gradually builds up to a scorching performance. Similarly, Blackman's playing switches from a mellow stance to a more energized tempo as Russo's drums crash with authority. These lads must kill it in live performance with this song.

Another of the album's highlights is “Pure Imagination," in which Russo's tribal drumming, Murray's electrifying bass, and Blackman's lively piano connect like birds in synchronized flight. They seem to be carried away by the music itself, taking our daydreams along for the ride.

Individual Artist Bios:

Alan Blackman

Max Murray

Frank Russo

Pianist and composer Alan Blackman has been a mainstay in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore area for over 15 years. He has performed at Blues Alley, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, and nearly all of the area’s Jazz Festivals, both as a freelancer and with his group the Blackman/Barke Quartet. This group was runner-up in the international competition and the Takoma Park Jazz Brawl. Recent concerts have included Ferenc Nemeth, Margret Grebowicz, and Vardan Ovsepian. 

Alan was awarded the eastern regional songwriting award by the Gospel Music Association and was selected to participate in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center in D.C. He released his first CD of original music, Shadowdance, in January 2000 and is currently working on his first jazz composition book, tentatively entitled, Changing Standards, which will be accompanied by an audio CD of his original arrangements.

Alan was awarded Maryland State Arts Grants in 2007 and 2009 for Musical Composition, and in 2010 for Musical Performance. His new CD, Turning Point with bassist Max Murray and drummer Frank Russo, and special guests Donny McCaslin and Margret Grebowicz was released in August 2010.

Alan has taught  jazz combos at Towson University as well accompanied the Jazz Vocal Master Class. He currently teaches Jazz Improv and private lessons and coaches the Jazz Ensemble at Howard Community College in Columbia, MD



Photos of Alan

Bassist Max Murray began making music at the age of four. The son of a professional musician, the double bass found him at age 13. While in high school, Max was accepted into the United States Navy Music Program. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the Navy, where he was forced to endure arduous tours of duty with bands in Hawaii and Newport, RI. In 1985, Max won an appointment to the Premier United States Naval Academy Band in Annapolis, MD., where he remained until 2000. During his military service, he performed a broad music in pretty much every style imaginable.

Max is honored to be influenced by some of the finest bassists on the planet, including Larry Wolfe, Paul Johnson, John Clayton, Milt Hinton, Rufus Reid, Glen Moore, Buster Williams, and Lynn Seaton. Max is blessed to have shared the stage with a diverse list of major talents, including Henry Mancini, Don Menza, Mose Allison, Jimmy Witherspoon, Lee Greenwood, Neil Sedaka, Louie Bellson, Gene Bertoncini, Dave Samuels, and Poncho Sanchez, and collaborates with many exceptional regional musicians. In 2003, he and longtime partner Frank Russo released their first CD, In My Mind's Eye, with pianist Doug Bickel and trumpeter John D'earth, He also can be heard on recordings by Afro Bop Alliance, Suede, Rob Vuono Orchestra, Tom Lagana Group, Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet, The Fred Hughes Trio, the Pete BarenBregge/Frank Russo Group, and The Vince Norman/Joe McCarthy Big Band.

As a member of Afro Bop Alliance, he received a Grammy nomination and a Latin Grammy Award for the 2008 release, Carribbean Jazz Project - Afro Bop Alliance. His most recent release, Turning Point, is with trio mates Alan Blackman and Frank Russo and features brilliant saxophonist Donny McCaslin.

Photos of Max

Frank Russo joyfully paints colorful soundscapes with his highly skilled, passionate, musical drumming. He's an in demand performer, recording artist and educator who currently resides in Maryland and teaches at Towson University. He is also an artist/educator for Bosphorus Cymbals, MD Drums and The Vic Firth Education Team. Raised in the NYC area, Frank was steeped in the rich musical heritage of the jazz legends at an early age and carries on the legacy of a musical family. Frank completed a distinguished career with the prestigious Naval Academy Band, where he performed in and led several dynamic ensembles. He was stationed in Annapolis, San Diego, Great Lakes, Monterey and Norfolk during his service.

An incredibly adaptable musician, a partial list of his performances testifies to his diverse talent. Frank has performed with Dave Ballou, Keter Betts, The Coasters, Hal Crook, Steve Davis, John D’earth, Denis DiBlasio, Ethel Ennis, Michael Feinstein, George Garzone, Greg Gisbert, Tim Hagans, Craig Handy, Conrad Herwig, Ingrid Jensen, Frankie Lane, Mundell Lowe, Deanna Martin, Donny McCaslin, Ron McCurdy, Bill McHenry, Chuck Redd, Ali Ryerson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, John Toomey, and Frankie Valli, among others.

Highlights of his performances include Jazz Festivals in the US, Canada, Asia, Europe, and The Kennedy Center. Frank is a Summit Records Recording Artist whose recordings have gained national recognition and praise from Downbeat, Jazztimes and Modern Drummer along with others.

Frank is proud to perform exclusively on maple drums designed by Keith Larsen (Baltimore Drum Company), Bosphorus cymbals and Vic Firth sticks.

The New CD

Waltz Op. 39   (J. Brahms)
5 Streams   (Blackman)
Majorca   (Blackman)
Turning Point   (Blackman)
You’ve Changed   (C. Fischer)
I’ve Never Been In Love Before   (F. Loesser)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps   (G. Harrison)
Sledgehammer   (P. Gabriel)
Pure Imagination   (L. Briscusse)
Heartland   (Blackman)
The Yearning   (Blackman)

featuring Donny McCaslin and Margret Grebowicz.

Recorded @ Bennett Studios, Englewood, NJ

Now Available!
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