Michael Blake


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This 2002 release marks New York City-based saxophonist Michael Blake's third solo effort. On this outing, the artist enlists fellow Jazz Composers Collective instrumentalists bassist Ben Allison, pianist Frank Kimbrough, and drummer Mike Mazor. Unsurprisingly, Blake continues to complement his already estimable legacy, with this wondrously gorgeous follow-up to the large-ensemble recording Drift. Whether performing on tenor or soprano saxophones, Blake inadvertently reemphasizes his status as an emerging stylist who possesses a warm and sometimes whispery tone. On the opener, "In the Arms of Ali," Kimbrough states a lower-register ostinato for what could seem like a hard rock motif. Here, Blake's meditative soprano sax lines cast an organic feel and spiritual aura atop his associates' intricately devised modalities. The quartet seemingly reworks the familiar bassline of John Coltrane's classic "A Love Supreme" into a laid-back groove, further enhanced by Blake's robust choruses and R&B-style musings. This altogether divergent program also features a funk-tinged blues number along with some gospel elements amid climactic opuses and the soloists' exquisite exchanges. No doubt, Elevated should finds its way onto quite a few Top Ten lists for 2002. Strongly recommended.

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