Drift cover

Michael Blake: Drift

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Creating a sonic environment that blends the styles of Jazz, Blues and Modern Music into a deep groove with abundant personality.

"Best CD of 2000"
Jazzthing Magazine

Blake sees his band Free Association as a work in progress inspired by John Lurie, Roland Kirk, Fela Kuti, Ellington and other great band leaders. Like these originals he relies on and reacts with his instrumentalists to produce an integral group spirit.

Drift features Palmetto recording artists Matt Wilson on drums and Jazz Composers Collective founder Ben Allison on bass. Heard on electric guitar is bassist/songwriter Tony Scherr. For the recording Michael added percussionist Mauro Refosco and pianist Frank Kimbrough to the rhythm section. Multi instrumentalist Peck Allmond, tubist Marcus Rojas, trumpeter Ron Horton and saxophonist Briggan Kraus filled out the horns. Also sitting in is fellow Lounge Lizard Steven Bernstein on slide trumpet. Michael's good friend Scott Harding has once again provided his expertise, understanding and sense of humour throughout the recording and mixing sessions.

Michael wrote most of the music for this band while jamming weekly at a French bistro on St. Marks for a year or so. One night a plate of mussels was accidentally spilled on the drummer and later when Michael ordered a round on the house for the soiled musician the owner refused him. After that incident Blake decided to take a break from the place and concentrate on writing arrangments for his new CD. The regular gathering did allow him to get together a new repertoire of tunes while fine tuning an exciting yet subtle jazz group.

Some of the players who have been a part of Michael's live performances are Medeski, Martin and Wood, poet Akim, dancer Thu Le and fellow Lizards Steven Bernstein, David Tronzo, Bryan Carrott and Tony Scherr. Ben Allison has been a member of Free Association since its start and has participated in almost all of its manifestations. Allison is a founder of the Jazz Composers Collective in which Michael is a composer in residence. Blake is also one fifth of Ben Allison's group Medicine Wheel, plays with Allison's trio every week at the bar Kush and participates in the Herbie Nichols Project.

Free Association has played shows at the Knitting Factory, Museum of Modern Art and most recently at the new Lower East Side performance space Tonic. His opening night shows at the Knitting Factory's New York Jazz Festival have received rave reviews in the Village Voice and New York Times.