DRIFT (Intuition Music): Creating a sonic environment that blends the styles of Jazz, Blues and Modern Music into a deep groove with abundant personality.
Blake sees his band Free Association as a work in progress inspired by John Lurie, Roland Kirk, Fela Kuti, Ellington and other great band leaders. Like these originals, he relies on and reacts with his instrumentalists to produce an integral group spirit.
DRIFT features Palmetto recording artists Matt Wilson on drums and Jazz Composers Collective founder Ben Allison on bass. Heard on electric guitar is bassist/ songwriter Tony Scherr. For the recording Michael added percussionist Mauro Refosco and pianist Frank Kimbrough to the rhythm section. Multi instrumentalist Peck Allmond, tubaist Marcus Rojas, trumpeter Ron Horton and saxophonist Briggan Kraus filled out the horns. Also sitting in is fellow Lounge Lizard Steven Bernstein on slide trumpet.
Michael wrote most of the music for this band while jamming weekly at a French bistro on St. Marks for a year or so. One night a plate of mussels was accidentally spilled on the drummer and later, when Michael ordered a round on the house for the soiled musician, the owner refused him. After that incident Blake decided to take a break from the place and concentrate on writing arrangements for his new CD. The regular gathering did allow him to get together a new repertoire of tunes while fine tuning an exciting yet subtle jazz group.
Free Association has played shows at the Knitting Factory, Museum of Modern Art and more recently at the new Lower East Side performance space Tonic. His opening night shows at the Knitting Factory's New York Jazz Festival have received rave reviews in the Village Voice and New York Times.
Saxophonist and composer Michael Blake is Canadian and lives in Brooklyn, New York. This past summer his ensemble Free Association was awarded the prestigious Doris Duke Jazz Ensemble's Project Grant from Chamber Music America. Blake is also co-leader of Slow Poke, a foursome including world-renowned slide guitarist David Tronzo. Their debut CD, SLOW POKE AT HOME is a sublime journey into their slow and funky world. Another release, REDEMPTION is currently available on Intuition Music.
Michael's critically acclaimed debut CD KINGDOM OF CHAMPA (Intuition Music) was released in 1997. Produced by the legendary Teo Macero, Champa is a mesmerizing musical travelogue featuring a brilliant cast of players.
Michael's lyrical and vibrant work with John Lurie and the Lounge Lizards spans over a decade and has gained him worldwide recognition. His tenure with the Lizards includes numerous record dates, a live concert film from Berlin in 1991 and film soundtracks like the Oscar nominated score for GET SHORTY. Michael is a composer in residence in the Jazz Composers Collective, a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting concerts for jazz composers.
The saxophonist has recorded and worked with Gil Evans' Orchestra, Lee Konitz, Medeski Martin & Wood, Ben E. King, Marvin Pontiac, Tricky, Prince Paul, DJ Logic, and Pinetop Perkins.
DRIFT will be released in the U.S. in May 2001.