Music Reviews

Michael Blake

Dance of the Mystic Bliss

12 of the best tracks from 2023


Formats available: Download, Vinyl, CD

Dance of the Mystic Bliss is the type of album you make time to listen to. It requires attention and patience. It offers vast musical landscapes with details that will be better enjoyed and even more appreciated after the second and third listen.

The album was created by a very talented septet lead by Michael Blake (tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, alto flute) who is joined by Guilherme Monteiro (electric guitar), Skye Steele (violin, rabeka, gonji), Christopher Hoffman (cello), Michael Bates (acoustic bass), Mauro Refosco (percussion) and Rogerio Boccato (percussion).

The band fuses jazz with a giant selection of rhythms and styles, it ventures to the Caribbean, flies onward to parts of the Balkans, hops through France, takes a short journey through rock blues guitar, blends South and Latin American licks, and hops back to the other side of the pond to add African nuances to the merriment.

Blake leads with a sound that’s occasionally reminiscent of the late and very great Eddie Harris. The addition of Steele and Hoffman’s strings gives the affair a slight Snarky Puppy feel and the percussion of Refosco and Boccato tightly ties all in the rhythms.

The performance from all seven players is sublime, listeners will be taken on a journey that includes slightly avant-garde jazz that merges into achingly beautiful melodious solos throughout 10 tracks that last almost exactly 50 minutes. The recording is good and will favour a system that can deal with very heavy, warm bass.

Make time for this album and take the opportunity to listen to it more than once.  It is a fantastic effort made by a very talented band who know how to combine innovation and joy in equal measure.

Reuben Klein

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