Thursday, 24 June 2010

Michael Blake Quartet hits 52nd Street (swing street)

Here it is in its heyday. And I'm proud to say I'll be playing there on Tuesday with a sensational rhythm section. I moved to NYC almost 25 years ago and at that time there were a few of the old jazz clubs left. I got  to play at The Village Gate (upstairs and downstairs) and some of the clubs formed in the 70's like Mikells,  Fat Tuesdays and Sweet Basil. Man, there was a great place across from Columbia U - I can't remember the name - with hard bench seating and tight legroom. It was kind of like flying in coach.   Now that I'm teaching kids in their teens and 20's I feel fortunate that i got to spend time in these joints listening to legends. It is a reminder that NYC real estate turns over and over and not much stays around for long. Still, sitting in at the Gate (The New School sparked that sunday jam) and The Jazz Cultural Center gave me a perspective on the scene and what it took to survive here. Most of my generation really miss Bradley's and I remember some fun nights there myself but it did get expensive and I lived uptown. It was a long trip home on the local so I had to choose my nights out with some care. One of the best venues and a reminder of how diverse the booking policies used to be was the Bottom Line. I heard Sonny Rollins there a number of times and played there in 1987 with none other than Doug and the Slugs. Not many probably know who I'm talking about unless you're from Vancouver and remember a  hit they had in 70's. I still got a buzz playing these venues and thought it was the just a matter of time before I got to play in The Village Vanguard.  Well I still haven't ever gotten to play there, but I am going to play on swing street next week. The photo above captures it at it's prime. Man I bet that was an amazing experience, to stroll on one street and hear the greats play. Wait a minute, Bleecker St looked like that last week at the Undead Festival! So, NYC still kicks ass and we'll be doing the same next week at Miles Cafe. It's a new venue and you have to go to the 3rd floor, so it's not at street level. I hear they have a gorgeous steinway (something all you piano players might want  to check out) and a good vibe.
Catch us this Tuesday, June 29 at Miles Cafe  8-11pm
212 E. 52nd St. #3Fl.
New York NY 10022
E/V train to 53rd St./Lexington, 6 train to 51st St.
Call for reservations (212) 371-7657
Michael Blake - saxophones
Landon Knoblock - piano
Michael Bates - bass
Daniel Freedman - drums

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Michael Blake Quartet 'Live at Barbes'

Check this out. Barbes recorded the gig and i didn't even know it. Now everyone can hear our debut gig online! Not the best audio quality but still, pretty cool. Thanks to Marlon Bishop and WNYC for streaming this and writing such kind words about my music