From Philadelphia comes news of the death of John Blake, Jr., a violinist who combined his classical training, love for the African-American musical tradition and sense of adventure to become prominent on the forward edge of jazz in the 1970s. Blake was 67. He made his mark recording with tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp and soon won the Violinist Deserving Wider Recognition category in the Down Beat Critics Poll. His fame widened when he toured with Grover Washington, Jr’s band and then with pianist McCoy Tyner in several of Tyner’s groups. He worked with a variety of artists including Duke Ellington, Steve Turre, Cecil McBee, James Newton and Billy Taylor. In recent years, Blake devoted much of his time and energy to the development of musical interest in young people in his native Philadelphia.
Here is Blake in 2001 with Taylor, bassist Chip Jackson and drummer Winard Harper in a program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
For an obituary of Blake, see this article in The Philadelphia Inquirer. It includes video that shows Blake’s affinity for young people.