Live Review of Sean Blackman & In Transit In Bloomfield Hills

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Bloomfield Hills, MI

Web: seanblackman.com

Contact: [email protected]  

Players: Sean Blackman, acoustic guitars; Steve Caldwell, electric guitars; Victor Ghannam, oud & kanun; Lisa Montes, flamenco dancer; Allison Laako, French vocals; Mar Brisa, Brazilian & Cuban vocals; Larry Fratangelo, percussion; Takashi Iio, bass guitar; Ron Otis, drums

Material: The lexicon of Sean Blackman’s In Transit is vast and varied, with an approach that encompasses many cultures. It is an amazing musical travelogue of epic scope. From original compositions such as the ambient-flavored “To Us” and the exotic “Sapori” to standards like Luis Bonfa’s “Samba de Orfeu” and Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose,” the set list transports you to numerous locales and ports-of-call from around the globe. 

Musicianship: Blackman is the MC and leads the ensemble, with charismatic intensity and flawless technique. His mastery of finger style-induced melodies and jazz-influenced chords is dynamic and breathtaking. Caldwell is his perfect foil and provides an enveloping blend of spacey sounds and tasteful solos. The rhythm section of Fratangelo, Otis and Iio are essential to the group as they set the pace, shape and feel of each composition. They construct the bedrock on which vocalists Brisa and Laako, along with dancer Montes flourish and shine. The special sauce, if you will, is Palestinian musician Ghannam. His delicate, yet affirmative touch on the oud and piano-like kanun adds a distinctive Mediterranean atmosphere.

Performance: The acoustics in this lovely house of worship were impeccable. For a nine-piece band that’s a lot of sound to push cleanly, but the mix of each instrumentalist came through in robust and brilliant fashion. If a performance can elicit pure joy, than that’s what this reviewer was feeling. A few highlights, of which there were many, included Montes’ vibrant flamenco moves that garnered rapturous applause and a single red rose tossed from the crowd. 

Summary: Blackman is a consummate artist that works in various mediums as a soloist as well as in duos, trios and so forth. With In Transit, he brings the best of talent from around the world to provide the audience with a unique and unparalleled multi-cultural experience. It is a rare treat to catch this act when you can; where musical diplomacy and uncompromising artistry blossom