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Michael Blake Sextet: Amor de Cosmos

Jerry D'Souza By

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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 apparent on the two improvisations, "Ghostlines and "The Hunt.

"Ghostlines finds Blake probing, his lines gently changing shape on a wisp of a melody. Breathiness and linearity give way to a pronounced groove, his lines looping and returning to start the journey all over again, until it straightens out and disappears in the whoosh of his breathing. "The Hunt is an extension of that trajectory, but Blake cuts a keener edge on this one. Chris Gestrin, Blake's sole companion on these two tracks, lets his piano sprinkle cool notes. On the "The Hunt, he adds electronics. Blake cuts through with trenchant jabs and squiggles. Together, they take the track into a whole new dimension, disseminating structure in an exceptional journey.

"Temporary Constellation jumps in on Gestrin's piano and Brad Turner's trumpet. The joyous bow is scattered on the changing time signature. The freer mode is the right emotional feed for Blake, Gestrin and Turner to probe and navigate. Blake, however, has other ideas, as he takes up his tenor and blows a very discernible melody and then swings out. As the pulse gets more animated, Turner ups the heat. The others hold their individual sway to turn this into an absolute delight in tone and execution.

Track Listing: Ghostlines; Temporary Constellation; Amor De Cosmos; So Long Seymour; The Wash Away; Infirmary; The Hunt; Paddy Pie Face.

Personnel: Blake: tenor and soprano saxophone; Brad Turner: trumpet; Sal Ferreras: marimba and percussion; Chris Gestrin: acoustic and electric piano, electronics; Andre Lachance: acoustic bass; Dylan van der Schyff: drums.

Title: Amor De Cosmos | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

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