Throughout his career, John Blake veered back and forth between R&B-ish sets and more adventurous dates. A pleasing if not overly distinctive violinist, the versatile Blake played in a wide variety of settings. After advanced classical study, he first gained recognition for his early-'70s recordings with Archie Shepp. During the next decade, Blake recorded with McCoy Tyner, James Newton, Cecil McBee, Jay Hoggard, and Grover Washington, Jr., touring extensively with Tyner and Washington. He made a series of generally interesting, if diverse, sets for Gramavision in the 1980s (including a fascinating 1986 date with fellow violinists Michal Urbaniak and Didier Lockwood) and one CD for Sunnyside in 1992, showing a lot of potential. Striken with multiple myeloma, Blake died in August 2014 at the age of 67. ~ Scott Yanow
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