Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Michael Blake In The Grand Scheme Of Things SCL 2012

In the grand scheme of things, new sounds and more importantly new ways of interpreting old music allow for a deceptively subtle complex approach to what is more commonly referred to as the avant-garde. The often misused and rarely understood sub genre of jazz that critics began labeling music they simply "didn't get." And that is o.k....I prefer left of center while still maintaining a high degree of melodic accessibility in the midst of what is seemingly controlled sonic fury and chaos.

With In The Grand Scheme of Things, Blake constructs or perhaps deconstructs tunes that are seemingly out of place in most any idiom or generic basket that one tries to label them in. The conventional jazz idiom has never really been Blake's wheelhouse with In The Grand Scheme of Things an eclectic mix of rock, jazz, semi-free hard bop, gospel and a totally unique ambient quality that allows the recording to take on a life if not organic pulse of its own. "Willie (the lonely cowboy) glides effortlessly over a beautiful melody into an odd metered improvisational free for all. "Cybermonk" is a hard swinging tune that sounds as it came straight from his tribute release to Lucky Thompson. One of the more intriguing pieces would have to be "Cordial Drive" with a post modern "Bitches Brew" mentality. A musical hodge podge? Maybe...But never has an eclectic release captured the spirit of post modern jazz in finer fashion. The first half of the releases is a harmonic exploratory while the second half move towards a more open ended approach where traditional form and function not to mention acceptable convention are politely tossed out the window.

The band is most unique known as the Variety Hour 4tet. There is an odd musical synergy that allows for a special chemistry to take hold and push the musical envelope to places far less traveled. No bass player...Chris Gestrin uses a Moog synthesiser to create that ambient feel mentioned earlier. Michael Blake creates harmonic colors you can touch, a sonic color pallet you can feel. Red has a sound, green has a feel, and blue has a unique texture all its own. When it comes to experimental music or "free-jazz" there may not be a finer ensemble anywhere that is able to convey the sonic brilliance with which Michael Blake does with such relative ease.

Tracks: Road To Lusaka; The Variety Hour; Cybermonk; Willie (the loney cowboy); The Searchers; Big Smile; A View of Oblivion; Freedom From Exile; Cordial Drive; Treat Her Right; Serenity Lodge.

Personnel: Michael Blake: tenor saxophone; JP Carter: trumpet; Chris Gestrin: fender rhodes electric piano, moog, micromoog synthsizer. Dylan Van Der Schyff: drums.