Michael Blake: Drift (2002)
Following up his stunning and hauntingly beautiful 1997 solo release, Kingdom of Champra - saxophonist/composer Michael Blake enlists fellow “Jazz Composers Collective” performers along with modern jazz saxophonist Briggan Krauss and others for this equally impressive production simply titled, Drift. Here, the New York City-based artist once again demonstrates his melodic compositional gifts to coincide with his full-bodied tenor sax tone and witty arrangements.
Blake’s superb thematic invention is supplemented by a large ensemble who sound as though they enjoy a near cosmic coexistence with the leader’s expansive jazz vernacular and shrewd melding of disparate elements, amid traces of Ellington, funk/rock and more! The piece titled, “”Toque”, features Afro-Cuban rhythms embedded amongst Tony Scherr’s funk-induced ostinato phraseology, the horn section’s tuneful harmonies and dashes of Asian modalities in conjunction with Blake and trumpeter Ron Horton’s passionate soloing.
The band burns through a straight forward four to the floor pulse on the rollicking, boisterous and brassy, “Lady Red” whereas, they homogenize a groove oriented jazz/rock/funk, enhanced by bassist Ben Allison’s profoundly stated bass lines atop memorably melodic hooks during “Afro Blake”. Yet, Blake’s strengths also reside within his ability to merge the tried and true into his deeply personal style and shrewdly envisioned concepts that seemingly transform his art and craft to lofty heights. However, the band’s crackerjack musicianship only enhances the overall scope of this mighty fine production. Vehemently recommended!
Track Listing: Drift, Mean as a Swan, Togue, The Creep, Lady Red, Teo Walks, Duty Free Suite, Dry Socket, Afro Blake, Maria, Residence
Personnel: Michael Blake; tenor & soprano saxophones: Peck Allmond; tenor saxophone, peck horn & trumpet: Briggan Krauss; alto and baritone saxophones: Ron Horton; trumpet & flugelhorn: Marcus Rojas; tuba: Steven Bernstein; slide trumpet: Frank Kimbrough; piano: Tony Scherr; electric guitar: Ben Allison; bass: Matt Wilson; drums: Mauro Refosco; percussion