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 mid-tempo bop vamps amid some whirling unison runs with Kimbrough. The saxophonist's titanic tonal range and intense phrasings help drive the quartet's authoritative musicality. Otherwise, "Letters In Disguise" is the lengthiest piece, clocking in at nine and one-half minutes. Here, Kimbrough's massive block chords intersperse ephemeral, free-form detours with classic, modern jazz fare as he helps raise the pitch along with Blake's soul-stirring expressionism and corpulent solo spots. The quartet delves into loping grooves and cresting opuses while combining an edgy new-age jazz vibe, spawned by beaming mainstream jazz choruses, brawny rhythmic breakouts and a transparent unification of the old with the new.