Michael Blake: Reviews
"Personalized flair throughout this sprightly excursion" say All About Jazz.
Hellbent was selected as Best of 2010!
Hellbent was chosen as one of the Best Albums of 2010 by All About Jazz NY (755k PDF).
Control This gets a nice review in All About Jazz NY
Vibrant, jovial and filled with affable communication, Control This is a sterling example of the endless possibilities of the duo format.
Nate Cichen asks for more committed listeners, so come on down.
Slow Poke at Home and Amor de Cosmos
More Like Us
...a unique sound and experience driven by a unique saxophonistAll About Jazz - Michael McCaw
...the group has developed cohesion, easily maneuvering the circuitous compositions on the disc.All About Jazz - Sean Patrick Fitzell
Right Before Your Very Ears
...an uptempo, highly energized melange of hardcore, free bop, and moreAll About Jazz - Glenn Astarita
...you can hear Archie Shepp and Lucky Thompson and Coltrane and Dewey Redman in Mr. Blake, and the group sounds great while playing what it wants to.The New York Times - Ben Ratliff
Blake Tartare (2005)
With every album under his own name, saxophonist Michael Blake has artfully carved out a creative space for his music. The tendency continues on his latest albums. Four stars.Downbeat - Peter Margasak, February 2006
Blake Tartare organically covers a range of stylistic territory, unfolding narratively through the course of the CD. It is another convincing musical statement, well supported by Blakeís finely chosen cast.Sean Fitzell, All About Jazz, June 2004
Thereís something lusty in the horn lines of the Brooklyn saxophonist, and if a Danish rhythm section canít bring it to the fore, who can? Donít buy into the "raw" aspect of the moniker, they are well seasoned.Jim Macnie, The Village Voice, October 2003
Right Before Your Very Ears (2005)
Michael Blake is a New York-based saxophonist, once a member of the Lounge Lizards, and "Right Before Your Very Ears" (Clean Feed) is the forthright, off-the-cuff new album by his trio, with the bassist Ben Allison and the drummer Jeff Ballard. Some of it is completely free, some dependent on small written motifs; there's also a cover of Duke Ellington's lovely "Mount Harissa." It is rhythmic and nuanced work by a modern mainstream jazz musician playing free jazz as a choice; you can hear Archie Shepp and Lucky Thompson and Coltrane and Dewey Redman in Mr. Blake, and the group sounds great while playing what it wants to.The New York Times - Ben Ratliff, September 25, 2005
Itís basically impossible not to enjoy Michael Blakeís Trio. The tenor and soprano saxophonist gives his incisive lines a chatty demeanor, making the music seem casual, inviting. Itís smoke and mirrors though. The craft behind the whole thing is deepThe Village Voice - Jim Macnie, December 2004
The more refined Blake becomes as a horn player and recording artist, the more he learns about finesse. Ultimately Elevated is about his move towards gracefulness. This group is terrifically tight and as each piece presents itself, a great creative thrust is achieved. I havenít spun a more perfectly titled disc in along time.Jim Macnie, Downbeat, June 2002
This tenor saxophonist likes to sit on the fence between tuneful simplicity and a wilder, more avant-garde bent. Here he comes off the fence and lands squarely on the side of melody. To draw a comparison between two excellent saxophonists, Blake is the anti-Chris Potter: no virtuoso, he prefers to score points with tone and tune. In this, heís much like Miles Davis, and if a fan of Kind of Blue were to ask me why nobodyís making albums like that anymore, I might make Elevated my rebuttal. Tempos are slow to medium, the mood is contemplative, structures are sometimes arcane but never at the expense of lyricism.Paul Wells, National Post, September 2002
Blake has climbed to the top tier of jazz artists with a bold curiosity that sees him criss-cross the musical map for ideas and inspiration.Paul Luke, The Province, June 2002
Elevated is more of a saxophonistís CD. He doesnít parrot or parody anyone, though; heís much to thoughtful and disciplined a musician for that.Mark Miller, The Globe & Mail, May 2002
If musicians like Blake can rescue the real mainstream from the hands --and mouths -- of re-creators, they can continue to prove that there's still a lot that can be created from evolutionary, as well as revolutionary, music. Undoubtedly this CD is exhibit A for the defense.Ken Waxman, Jazz Weekly.com
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. No doubt, "Elevated" should find its way on quite a few top ten lists for 2002. Strongly recommended!Glen Astarita, All Music Guide, allmusic.com
Michael Blake's quartet put on a fine show; alternately playful, sophisticated and richly melodic, the music on Mr. Blake's new album "Elevated" warmed the chilly room and left us hungry for more." The Wall Street Journal - Phil Connors, March 2002
Drift (2001)...soulful and buoyant, Blakeís tunes draw passionate performances from his group, many longtime cohorts and friends. Complex and emotional journeys provide these open-minded talents something worth reaching deep inside for. What they come up with is a very visual, cinematic-sounding record.Josephine Ochej, Coda, Issue 300/301, 2002...exotic, sensuous. He's assembled an exuberant group of emerging New York players...their diversity emphasizes the saxophonist's versatility and flair for melodic improvisations.Jon Andrews, Downbeat, August 2001Exquisitely crafted compositions, which are sometimes exuberant, sometimes dark and radiant, but always evocative of jazz history, both recent and ancient.Neil Tesser, Jazziz, June 2001Neither reverent nor self-consciously ironic, Blake borrows whatever he needs from either extreme to synthesize an impressive and original voice.Steve Smith, Jazztimes, June 2001Rarely has contemporary large-group writing sounded so effortless and free from the page.Nate Chinen, Shwann Inside, June 2001More than anything, the music heard on Drift is jazz created in the moment.Steve Graybow, Billboard, April 2001He eschews cleverness for the sake of cleverness and his sense of humor is free of cynicism; his intentions seem to be nothing more than exploring the pleasures of making music.Mark Miller, The Globe & Mail, April 2001Lucky for us, he knows how to make the familiar sound fresh.K. Leander Williams, Time Out NY, Issue# 291, 2001
Kingdom of Champa (1997)...an astonishingly mature and original debut CD. The music here falls provocatively beyond categorization. It's Blake's concept, not his cast, that makes Kingdom of Champa so impressive. He has written a gorgeous, seven part suite inspired by a month long sojourn in Vietnam. A CD worthy of someone like Henry Threadgill - lofty company.Mark Miller, Globe & Mail, May 1997An arrestingly beautiful and imaginatively expressive showcase for his multi-reed and composing talents. This electro-acoustic theme album, an extended tone poem that recalls later Gil Evans, is, in total, a magnificent artistic achievement that transcends category.Gene Kalbacher, CMJ, June 1997Blake's vision bristles with colors, textures and mystery.Neil Tesser, Playboy, October 1997