Michael Blake

Born May 19, 1964 in Montreal (Canada). Since his debut album Kingdom of Champa, Michael Blake is a prominent voice in contemporary music. The composer and saxophonist creates music that is original and imaginative. Blake has lived in New York City for more than 25 years. This residency has been a significant factor in his artistic growth. He has performed in some of the most prestigious concert halls around the globe, collaborated with many other musicians, and scored music for television and film. His talents as a world-class saxophonist are also used in dozens of master musicians’ projects. Although Michael’s music is instinctually rooted in jazz, his style is difficult to classify. Michael’s performances and albums are untroubled by preconceived notions or cliches. They emphasize the value of jazz as an art form. Michael has 10 albums as a leader. Each album highlights his abilities in arranging and conjuring new material. Blake continues to produce a steady stream of releases this year with two completely different records. In the Grand Scheme of Things is Blake’s latest release on Songlines Records. It is an elctroacoustic program of originals that are inspired by the cycle of our lives. Blake’s Vancouver band, the Variety Hour, is featured on this beautifully recorded album. Chris Gestrin is the MOOG synthesizer keyboardist. The second album, Union Square (Abeat), features Michael, Ben Allison, and Rudy Royston. It’s a powerful and thought-provoking album. This is a personal statement about who they are as musicians, and where they fit in modern culture. This masterful trio is full of great dynamics and interplay that allows for the conversation to flow naturally. Michael’s 2010 CD Hellbent was recorded live and showcases the saxophonists’ fearless improvisation. Control This (Clean Food) is a fun free-jazz album featuring Kresten Osgood, a powerful Danish/American drummer. In 1997, his critically-acclaimed debut CD Kingdom of Champa was released. It was produced by Teo Macero and features a stellar cast of NY musicians. Jazzthing Magazine’s Critics selected Drift (Intuition), its follow-up album, as the Best CD of 2000. Trio’s improvised album Right Before Your Very Eyes (Clean Food) is an improvised, off-the-cuff recording. Elevated (Knitting Factory Works), would have been a traditional quartet album if it weren’t for Scott Harding’s clever production. His Copenhagen-based group Blake Tartare was supported by a young rhythm section that encouraged him. Blake’s writings for strings and percussion are highlighted on two subsequent albums: 2007’s Amor de Cosmos, (Songlines), and 2008’s the World Awakes/A Tribute To Lucky Thompson (Stunt Records). From 1990 to 2000, his tenure with John Lurie u0026 the Lounge Lizards included numerous recording dates, television appearances, a Berlin concert film, and soundtracks for films such as Get Shorty, which was nominated for a Grammy. He was also a Composer In Residence at the Jazz Composers Collective. This non-profit, musician-run group is dedicated to presenting original music. He was also a co-leader of Slow Poke, an instrumental rock band. Slow Poke, which included David Tronzo on slide guitarist, Tony Scherr, producer/bassist, and Kenny Wollesen drummer, produced two albums: Slow Poke At Home (Palmetto), and Redemption (Intuition). Michael is an accomplished teacher who conducts classes and workshops in conjunction with his concerts. He has taught at NYU and The New School and is currently on the faculty of Fondazione Siena Jazz Summer Workshop (2009-12). Blake shares his opinions, anecdotes, and memoirs on his blog. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his son and has a daughter living in Vancouver, BC. Michael will be touring China with the Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser this fall. The Jazz Composers Collective celebrates its 20th anniversary at NYC’s most friendly jazz club, The Jazz Standard (Nov 6-11). The Variety Hour will be touring Canada in January 2013. He has recorded and performed with many artists, including Hamid Drake and Nicole Mitchell, Kenny Werner and Greg Osby. http://www.michaelblake.net

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