Saxophonist Michael Blake's previous concept album Kingdom of Champra (Intuition, 1997) is based on his experiences living with his family in Vietnam. On Fulfillment, the artist centers his focus on India, namely an incident that occurred when a Japanese freighter, transporting hundreds of East Indian immigrants was denied entry into the port of Vancouver, Canada in 1914. Another source of interest is that Blake's great grand uncle H.H. Stevens was instrumental in engaging the Canadian Parliament to take action.
Blake's manifold tactics are structured on contrasting modal processes and clever arrangements amid heartwarming, melodic choruses; straight-four jazz rock cadenzas, several reengineering exercises and shades of East India. Each piece encompasses a standalone storyline. And this positive attribute offers a sense of intrigue as Blake diversifies these arrangements with great depth, marked by his deeply personalized vision and so forth. For example, "Departures" poses a combination of glee and solace, commencing with Chris Gestin's brisk piano solo, and a linear horns and cello arrangement, amped by perky accents. The musicians bounce between free-jazz and modern mainstream, gelled with catchy phrasings and spunky soloing jaunts.
"Battle at Baj Baj," features a somber current, launched by drummer Dylan van der Schyff's rolling mallets and cymbals extrapolations, while Blake's dusky tonal range and commanding presence initiates the expansive movements with a touch of angst towards closeout. Other works are designed with climactic passages and guitarist Ron Samworth's distortion- streaked solos, but several regions of sound are softened with gentle overtones. Indeed, Blake's creative and imaginative sparks are in full force and he's undoubtedly at the top of his game here.
Track Listing: Sea Shanty; Perimeters; The Ballad of Gurdit Singh; Arrivals; Departures; Battle at
Baj Baj; Exaltation; The Soldier and the Saint.
Personnel: Michael Blake: tenor & soprano saxophone, compositions; J.P. Carter, trumpet,
electronics; Peggy Lee, cello; Chris Gestrin, piano, MicroMoog; Ron Samworth:
electric guitar, banjo; André Lachance: bass; Dylan van der Schyff: drums,
percussion. Special guests -Aram Bajakian: acoustic & electric guitar (1, 6, 7);
Emma Postl, voice (1, 3); Neelamjit Dhillon, tabla (7).
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.