Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Counter-Revolution: A Mini-Tribute to Trumpeter Extraordinaire, Atlanta Bliss

The world of music is not unlike some strange, often decadent beehive. You have your preening lead singers and showoff guitarists, which are the equivalent to the mated Queen Bee. The music (and money) (and drugs) are the honey but what about the worker bees? They are the ones that do a lot of the work and yet, are often just relegated to drone status. But a great hive is nothing without its worker bees and one of the musicians who has had some of the absolute best line-ups is Prince. Rivaled only by Frank Zappa, Prince is one of those composers who has always had the best of the best in his band. From the Revolution to the NPG, dollars to donuts, if you're a musician who has worked with Prince, you are the true blue real deal.
Out of the countless names on that list, the one that is often unfairly neglected is Atlanta Bliss aka Matt Blistan. Brought into the fold during the tail end of the Revolution by fellow jazz musician/badass, saxophonist Eric Leeds, Blistan's trumpeting skills added some rich dimension to Prince's music. At times sonically evoking such greats like Miles Davis, he provided a mix of old school jazz and new world funk to an instrument that very few associate with megafamous popular artists.

Plus, the cat's got style. Even from the often brief glimpses of him in assorted Prince related videos and live footage, the white and black suits, thick head of dark hair and a mustache that would have fit in perfectly on Tyrone Powers, all reek of a man cool enough to be called Atlanta Bliss and get away with it.

Blistan continued to play off and on with Leeds after his time with Prince, as well as appearing on a number of Paisley Park artists albums, including George Clinton, Mavis Staples and Carmen Electra. (How is that for brain frying?) There's not a lot of info about Blistan after the mid-90's period other than a great home video clip on YouTube of him tearing it up on "Brazil" at a business conference from the late 2000's. Hopefully this will be an article I can expound upon more in the near future, but until then, consider this a mini-tribute to a fantastic trumpet player, great musician and overall cool guy. Matthew Blistan, thank you for bringing it.

© 2014 Heather Drain