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Michael Blake | Hellbent

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United States - New York

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Jazz: Contemporary Jazz Rock: Instrumental Rock Moods: Featuring Saxophone
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by Michael Blake

I'm proud to announce the release of my latest CD Hellbent. The recording captures some of New York City's finest contemporary jazz artists at their very best. Joining me are Steven Bernstein (trumpet), Marcus Rojas (tuba) and G. Calvin Weston (drums).
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Mr. John
4:33 $0.99
2. Hellbent
12:07 $0.99
3. Like Father, Like Son
8:02 $0.99
4. The Two Step
7:56 $0.99
5. Flipper
13:35 $0.99
6. Wigwise
11:34 $0.99
7. I Want You Back
5:57 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Hellbent features NY based saxophonist/composer Michael Blake leading a powerful group of master musicians. The music they play is passionate and urgent as if a force unto itself. Blake teams up with fellow Lounge Lizards alumni and drummer Calvin Weston, tuba virtuoso Marcus Rojas and trumpeter Steven Bernstein.

All About Jazz wrote this about their concert in Seattle “They are hellbent on having fun and creating music that speaks to the heart and soul as well to the body and the mind.”

Hellbent began performing in NYC in 2006 and instantly caught the attention of artistic programmers in Europe. The band has performed in NYC, Vancouver, Seattle and Italy. They debuted at Brooklyn’s Barbes as a trio with Calvin Weston on drums and Marcus Rojas on tuba. This unusual instrumentation was expanded on with the addition of Steven Bernstein on trumpet and eventually Charlie Burnham joined them on violin. Calvin Weston and Charlie Burnham are among the most respected musicians in their field of ‘free funk’ jazz. Marcus Rojas is considered by many to be the greatest improviser on the tuba today. He has worked and recorded with Michael since 1996 and has performed with Lester Bowie, Dave Douglas and The New York Philharmonic among others. Blake sees the combination of brass and fiddle as an opportunity to compose his brand of lyrical yet percussive driven music. In spring of 2010 he will release their ‘live’ CD - from a Vancouver concert - on his own label. The blues, intensely fast tempos and free ‘blowing’ all play a big part in the construction of their repertoire but it is accessible to young and old alike. The content isn’t religious in nature but it is connected to a tradition deeply entrenched in worship.



to write a review

Doug Ottke

Brilliant CD
First, take a few deep breaths. Mr. John, the opening, like so many great Michael Blake songs, music of vast landscape, opening up a place to you, best experienced I think driving across a high valley in the Rockies. Then the tuba and drums drive the song ahead, transitioning into Hellbent, the surrealistic opening of which quickly takes off to places unknown. The audience’s appreciation at the end of the second song, 16.5 minutes into the album is a shocking recognition that this is a particular place, an event. Like Father, Like Son is so heartfelt, so expressive, so on target, fathers and sons are us. The Two Step lightens the mood with Marcus Rojas’ tuba perfectly establishing baseline. Flipper is otherworldly, perhaps the vast landscape of underwater this time. The song never misses a beat, Steven Bernstein solos terrifically on the trumpet. When Michael Blake comes in, with Calvin Weston and his powerhouse drums and the audience loving it, it does sound like 1991 in Berlin a little bit, doesn’t it? And what a brilliant, relentless continuation of that jam. Wigwise doesn’t let up. I Want You Back finishes out the work, speaking repetitively from and hopefully to the band, saying keep it going, great work.