Date: 2.11.03

 

The GARVIN BLAKE QUARTET

By TASHA MORRIS - Basement Press

 

Dim lights hover over plush red leather seats.  Black and white photos of island life drape the walls. And the sound of children laughing echoes through the intimate and cozy Sugarcane restaurant.  Today, Garvin Blake is celebrating his daughter’s birthday.  Simultaneously, the members leave their conversations to begin their set. With no introduction, the Garvin Blake Quartet plays on cue.

 

The tranquil faces of Garvin Blake, Tony Cedras, Gene Torres, and Damon Duewhite make up the Garvin Blake Quartet.  Their hands are so nimble it seems as if they are not moving.  Steel pan player, Garvin Blake, is up front with two pans. His face may shy away from the audience but his pans sing a beautiful melody.  The pan gives the jazz quartet a natural island feel. When Gene Torres plays the guitar, the riffs get in your soul, better than any bass at a party.  Pianist, Tony Cedras, is the most composed of them all.  Cedras makes playing the piano seem simple.   His reserved posture is remarkable compared to his exaggerated hand strokes.  Cedras is truly grand.  Drummer, Damon Duewhite, is the liveliest of the bunch.  He invokes laughter with his bright smile. 

 

Like most jazz bands they thrive off improvisation.  They slowed the pace for a piano solo, take requests for “Footsteps” all while waiters pass by with trays of delicious island cuisine.  The quartet shines on crowd favorite Belle Eau Road.  Mr. Duewhite incorporated the sides of the drum speeding up the tempo.  The use of a brush stick created the sound of African drums.  Torres’ bass guitar is the glue that holds it altogether.  His consistent strumming and sleepy eyes go unnoticed, but awakens with an urgency of rock.   The audience showers them with applause.  After many upbeat songs, the Garvin Quartet Band reminds us that it’s a Sunday afternoon with the Three Kings.  Their slowed-down version has a hip swinging reggae rhythm.

 

The Garvin Blake Quartet has been working off and on for eight years.  They released the Belle Eau Road Blues CD a few years ago through Basement Recordings.  Their music is a combination of improvisation, jazz and steel.  They do not want to be categorized.    They love playing music and performing with other bands.  This is their day job. 

 

They say it relieves stress and keeps them sane. The music industry can be demanding.  They are performing, recording songs in the studio and traveling on the road.  When do they find personal time?  Torres knows it’s a strain on his family.  He tries to find ways to be closer.  He brought his son along to enjoy the performance and birthday celebration. Duewhite met his wife on the road. Their relationship is built on understanding and lasts because of ground rules that they both follow. 

 

The quartet is working on their next CD.  In the meantime you can hear them on Sunday afternoons at The Sugarcane - 238 Flatbush Avenue, (at Bergen Street in Park Slope) Brooklyn, New York.  Call 1-718-230-3954 for reservations.

 

 

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All rights reserved.















Garvin Blake on the double seconds

 

 

From left:  Gene Torres, Damon Duewhite, Garvin Blake, Tony Cedras

 


The guys relax in between sets