Michael Blake: In the Grand Scheme of Things (2012)

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Track review of "Road to Lusaka"

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Michael Blake: In the Grand Scheme of Things
The beginning of an unusual release, "Road to Lusaka" is the first track from Canadian-born, New York-based saxophonist Michael Blake's In the Grand Scheme of Things. While maybe not as widely known in some circles, Blake is a masterful practitioner of the art form who is at ease working in or outside of the mainstream with a discography that includes a number of recordings and credits with the Lounge Lizards, the Jazz Composers Collective and others.

Sumptuous noises encompass the cinematic opening—shadowy trumpet wails and subtle nuances of exotic percussion mingled with gentle cymbal crashes—and then suddenly, the resonant synchronized pulse from a Moog bass line. As the track settles into the groove, Blake and trumpeter JP Carter exchange an open dialog with sporadic and purposed statements as drummer Dylan van der Schyff splashes the ostinato theme with detailed percussion.

One of the key elements of the composition—and the entire release—is Chris Gestrin's exceptional work on both Fender Rhodes and Micromoog. The synthesized bass riff drives the piece, providing a wide sonic backdrop for the two lead voices to travel. At the track's closing, the Moog's frequency range is thoroughly manipulated with contoured embellishments. It's an electro-acoustic thoroughfare that is absorbing and enjoyable.

Personnel: Michael Blake: tenor saxophone; JP Carter: trumpet and electronics; Chris Gestrin: Fender Rhodes, Moog Micromoog synthesizer; Dylan van der Schyff: drums.

Record Label: Songlines Recordings

Style: Modern Jazz


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