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Amor De Cosmos by Michael Blake Sextet

New York area saxophonist/composer and Vancouver, B.C., native Michael Blake aligns with some of the major young voices of the Canadian progressive jazz scene on this album inspired by a British Columbia journalist/politician. Per the press kit, Blake’s modus operandi for this endeavor draws upon his intrigue with 19th Century newspaperman/politician William Alexander Smith who renamed himself Amor de Cosmos. Otherwise, Blake has carved out some impressive credentials among the global jazz elite as an artist who has recorded for numerous record labels within the USA and abroad. As his artistry often yield’s rewarding elements by way of intricately-engineered plots and enticing theme-building initiatives.

It’s often interesting to hear and to some extent visualize an artist’s absorption of influence via a particular event, era, or in this case, a journalist. Nonetheless, Blake steers a very mobile unit here. They navigate through dark alleys amid off-center jazz-fusion maneuvers, powerful progressive jazz motifs and perky grooves, often layered with lush horns choruses. He’s a thinking man’s jazz musician indeed. Check out the title piece "Amor de Cosmos," where the sextet executes an ominous, slow-tempo vibe that provides a mind-bending flow, largely due to Chris Gestrin’s liquefying maneuvers performed on electric keys. And in other movements, Blake and trumpeter Brad Turner engage in airy bop phrasings where multihued textures and regal melodies come into play.

Marimba performer Sal Ferreras weaves around Turner and Blake on "Paddy Pie Face," which is a composition that is designed with a pleasing and irrefutably, jubilant primary melody. Sure enough, the saxophonist’s latest venture looms as one of his more all-encompassing works to date. He intertwines and balances a frothy muse with his band-mates’ nicely-placed dynamics. It’s an album that sustains interest thanks to the leader’s incisive compositional frameworks and continually evolving storyline. Blake conjures up boundless imagery throughout this superbly visualized program.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Michael Blake Sextet
  • CD Title: Amor De Cosmos
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Songlines
  • Musicians: Michael Blake (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone), Brad Turner (trumpet), Chris Gestrin (piano, electric piano, electronics), Sal Ferreras (marimba, percussion), Andre Lachance (acoustic bass), Dylan Van Der Schyff (drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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