Tenor saxophonist Michael Blake has played a prominent factor within the backbone of New York's progressive jazz scene, having performed with big bands, small ensembles and on Tiddy Boom, re-aligning with New York Jazz Collective comrades, pianist Frank Kimbrough and bassist Ben Allison. In-demand session drummer Rudy Royston complements a group that proffers sympathetic support to Blake's line of attack, outlined by classic jazz outings by yesteryear's masters. Essentially, he revisits his origins and pays homage to Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young but imparts his personalized flair throughout this sprightly excursion. Blake presents a conglomerate of swing and ...read more
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, ...read more
Interstellar Space (Impulse!, 1965), John Coltrane's raucous tenor sax duo album with drummer Rashied Ali, is widely considered the pinnacle achievement of such instrumental pairings. Its blistering intensity continues to haunt similar efforts, yet there are a few intrepid souls who have opted for a more subtle, dynamic approach--one which favors conversational interplay over kinetic fury.
New York-based saxophonist Michael Blake and Danish drummer Kresten Osgood are two such explorers. Longstanding collaborators, they served as sidemen to organist Lonnie Smith and toured in Blake's freewheeling Blake Tartare ensemble. Over the years they have developed a deep-seated rapport, lending ...read more
With each release, saxophonist Michael Blake pushes himself in a different direction through composition, instrumentation and/or stylistic approach. On Amor de Cosmos, the native Canadian convened an all-Canuck sextet to perform compositions inspired by family memories and the local history of British Columbia, where he spent time as a child. In a departure for Blake, the group includes younger musicians with whom he had little prior experience: Brad Turner (trumpet), Sal Ferreras (marimba and percussion), Chris Gestrin (keyboards and electronics), Andre Lachance (bass) and Dylan van der Schyff (drums). The CD opens with the appropriately-titled Ghostlines," an ...read more
Nothing could be better than a homecoming, and saxophonist Michael Blake proves it on the musical odyssey of Amor de Cosmos. In 2005, Blake returned to Vancouver, where he played two shows. Out of that came this sextet of prime Canadian musicians, who realize Blake's music and vision most profoundly.
Blake's writing is imaginative. He is equally facile with an odd time signature or a mainstream tune. But there is no stasis; evolvement is constant, and comes in Blake's conceptualization of time, dimension and harmony, as he finds fertile zones of his own imagining. These facets become all the more ...read more
A former member of the Lounge Lizards and co-founder of Slow Poke, saxophonist Michael Blake's familiarity with the esoteric is well documented. A restless searcher, Blake's varied discography reaches beyond jazz to include explorations into the traditional folk music of Vietnam and North Africa. The New York-based saxophonist recently delved into his Canadian roots after studying eccentric 19th century Canadian newspaperman / politician William Alexander Smith, who renamed himself Amor De Cosmos.
Amor De Cosmos is Blake's first recording featuring an all-Canadian ensemble. Blake and trumpeter Brad Turner were part of drummer Dylan van der Schyff's recent quintet ...read more
Michael Blake's Hellbent Earshot Jazz event, Tula's Seattle, Washington Saturday, February 24, 2007
Michael Blake last played in Seattle during the 2002 Earshot Jazz Festival with The Herbie Nichols Project, a group spawned by The Jazz Composers Collective. This reviewer covered the Nichols show for Coda magazine (Issue 309, May/June 2003). Let's hope that the wait between performances won't be quite so long next time.
Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada--he was born there on May 19, 1964--Blake has been a vital contributor to the new music scene in the New York City ...read more