A lot of personal factors go into saxophonist Dan Blake's music on this CD, such as his concerns about the environment, his Buddhist teachings and his social activism. What comes out of this is a style of electro-acoustic jazz which is alternately meditative and fiery.
The basic music here was performed in the studio by a quartet of Blake on saxophone, Carmen Staaf on piano, Dmitry Ishenko on bass and Jeff Williams on drums. The tunes were then given sporadic overdubbing by Leo Genovese on electric keyboards, with Blake adding additional saxophone parts. Overall, the music has a feeling of John Coltrane-like spiritual yearning, with Blake's imposing sax work vaulting and soaring above the rhythm section's forceful rumbling. Soprano and tenor eloquently jut and wriggle in the lead on "Cry of the East" and "Like Fish In Puddles" as the piano hammers and the drums roll. Among tracks featuring just the quartet, "The Grifter," aimed at certain influential hucksters in today's world, has particularly agitated and tense interaction between Blake's tenor, Staaf's craggy piano and Williams' hustling drums, and "The Cliff" is angular funk with a Monkish twist and Blake sailing along on twinned soprano and tenor lines.
Genovese is not present on every track but his electrotonic contributions add atmosphere when they appear. His keyboard squiggles add an element of chaos to Blake's hard tenor blasts on the latter half of "Puddles." On "Pain" his shimmering synthesizers wrap around the leader's soulful soprano cries before the quartet begins to trace a graceful bluesy melody, enhanced by wispy electric keyboard sounds. "Da Fe" begins with synthesizer duelling with rippling soprano. This leads to two sopranos darting over a freewheeling tapestry of twisting electronic melodies, clanging piano chords and methodical drum beats. The last track, "Epilogue: It Heals Itself" has the quartet playing with graceful slowness. Blake ruminates beautifully on soprano before electronics and an added layer of soulful tenor add depth and color to the whole.
Dan Blake's music is lovely and inspiring on this CD. There are feelings of serenity and joy in this music as well as flashes of righteous anger. He has given the legacy of spiritual jazz a quietly impressive updating.
Prologue—A New Normal; Cry Of The East; Like Fish In Puddles; Pain; The Grifter; The Cliff; Doctor
Armchair; Da Fé; Epilogue: It Heals Itself.