Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Contrasts in Individualim Pt 3

First of all I'd like to thank everyone who came out to hear the new work at Kitano in January. The premiere was on the heels of a trip to New Orleans and I was inspired to play the new music for all of you! Next week we will perform the music for the second time at Jazz Standard.

Tuesday, March 18th at 7:30 and 9:30pm
Michael Blake's World Time Zone A premiere of my new work "Contrasts in Individualism: Reinterpreting the Innovations Of Hawkins and Young"! Made possible with support from Chamber Music America's 2013 New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development program funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Michael Blake (tenor sax), Ben Allison (bass), Ferenc Nemeth (drums) and special guest Frank Kimbrough (piano)

Exploring the stylistic innovations of my heroes has been a truly humbling experience. This year I'm turning 50 years old and I still can't believe it. I've been really fortunate to make a life playing and composing music and despite the challenges I face in the music business I have no complaints about the business of making music. Things have changed a lot since I came to NYC in 1986. At the beginning I was completely lost as to what I should do... how to play, what tunes to learn, etc...Despite taking lessons with one of that eras strongest contemporary saxophonists I always felt like I didn't fit in to that mold. I found my niche working with the Jazz Composers Collective members and The Lounge Lizards. Both were made up up of completely different thinkers and that was just what I needed. I began t think for myself and work with sound and substance rather than style. I remember thinking back then that I was going to have to change the way I thought about getting my music out there. Fortunately I had a lot of support from several small labels that always supported my new releases and gave me a platform to sell and distribute my music. I am especially proud of my latest effort 'In the Grand Scheme of Things'. I have never  produced an album that doesn't absorb some concept otuside of the straight ahead jazz niche. I always felt that if I was going to make an album it should stand up to multiple listens and capture something fresh that is encircling my mind and imagination. But this time I'm setting aside the quirky instrumentations to record a mainstream jazz quartet album.

This music is about two incredible saxophone players and in order to pay them tribute I went into the woodshed and spent many hours reviewing the qualities that define their music. Ultimately I came out of the premiere relieved that all that work paid off. I wanted to play at my best and not choke while trying to measure up to my own expectations. A forthcoming album of the new music confirms in my mind that the cliche is wrong - you can teach an old dog new tricks. In fact just before the premiere I was working for my old friend Steven Bernstein and I received some friendly advice from him on what not to play in a secific situation. I was reminded that you are never too old to learn how to be a better musician. 
Back to work!

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