Release date: October 14, 2022
Label: Newvelle Records
Featuring all new arrangements by Michael Blake, Combobulate combines Blake originals with compositions both by his son, Roland, and old boss, John Lurie. Combobulate is due out October 14, 2022 via Newvelle Records.
“Michael Blake is always exploring the edge of so many different pockets of the New York jazz world. A ‘first call’ musician who prefers to call his own shots. Country, soul, “free,” swing, trad jazz, rock, musical traditions from Vietnam and India, southern blues …all of it rolling around in Michael’s bag but always with an ear tilted towards the joy of it.” –From the liner notes by Elan Mehler
“Bills in the Bell” and “Henry’s Boogaloo” (dedicated to New Orleans piano titan Henry Butler) were adapted here for the double tuba session and bring bluesy, bouncy joy to the proceedings. The title song, “Combobulate,” is a journey unto itself with both tubas bouncing along with drummer Allan Mednard’s static cross beat. A swinging and subtle “Focus Pocus” is a nod to tenor saxophone idol Stan Getz’s landmark album Focus. “Strange Affair” is a swinging waltz for soprano sax akin to John Coltrane’s rendition of “My Favorite Things.” “Anthem for No Country” is adapted from Michael’s 2002 album Elevated. Elan Mehler joins the band in memoriam to their fallen colleague Frank Kimbrough. With its polyrhythmic 12/8 groove, Michael’s fondness for Madagascar choral music is at the heart of “Malagasy”. The gorgeous tone poem “Cuyahoga Valley” was composed by Michael’s son Roland. Michael sought after his previous employer John Lurie’s approval to record “Bob the Bob”. Closing the album is a fine chorale arrangement of Robert Burns “The Parting Glass”.
For a more complete understanding of the framework for this recording please refer to the Liner Notes.
Newvelle Records is proud to present The Renewal Collection, a limited edition four-album series affirming the resilience of music through the anguish and loss of the Covid-19 pandemic. The collection, Newvelle’s first series release in two years, features original compositions from incredible artists, recorded over five months and pressed on the highest quality 180-gram vinyl. Now available for preorder, the full collection ships September 15 and individual albums will be released monthly between September and December 2022 while supplies last. Together, these records capture a wide range of musical reflections and celebrations on what it means to be jazz artists in this moment.
The Renewal Collection was recorded and mixed by Grammy-winning engineer Marc Urselli at New York’s East Side Sound between November 2021 and March 2022, and mastered by Josh Bonati. The four records are pressed on 180-gram vinyl, using patented Groovecoated Stampers by Matt Earley of Gotta Groove Records, and stored in incredible gatefolds designed by Studio Mococo, the multi-award winning team that designed Newvelle’s New Orleans Collection and KIMBROUGH tribute album. Given free rein to build the series in response to the music they heard, Mococo’s team designed covers featuring dramatic crops of stunning photography from the U.S. Library of Congress’s archives and timeless, yet unique typefaces.
Recognized for “its distinctive, brand-coherent album art” and for offering “a throwback to jazz’s midcentury glories” by The New York Times, Newvelle Records was founded in 2015 with a fundamentally different model for creating and distributing music in the digital age.
“Newvelle is arguably producing today’s best sounding new jazz recordings.”
"Since his emergence in the 1990s, saxophonist Michael Blake has made a subspecialty out of raucous groups with unconventional instrumentation." Read the Jazz Fall Preview here.
"Blake’s proclivity to balance himself on the edge of genres is only enhanced on this new date, and notably on the single ‘Malagasy’." Watch and listen on Jazzwise here, featured as the Video of the Day.
"Michael Blake’s Combobulate is a total grin fest, a brass band that bursts with energy.." Read the review here.
"The lineup gives Blake ample low end to cushion these performances within — a move that softly restrains his own playing and that of trumpeter Stephen Bernstein to trickling eddies rather than torrents of sound." Read the review here.
"Michael Blake has a way of expressing an eccentric personality in a framework of the blues." Read the Best Jazz on Bandcamp for October 2022 here.
"This warm tune is one of the highlights of an album with a lot of range and soul." Read the full article of track highlights here.
MAKING A SCENE
"This is one of the more interesting sextets you’ll hear." Read the review here.
"During the pandemic, the vinyl-only label Newvelle Records had to hit the pause button. Happily, it has hit play again with four terrific new projects coming out this year." Full article here.
NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD
"A beautiful showcase of what a modern jazz band can achieve.." Read the review in the February 2023 issue here.
Read the review in Japanese in the March 2023 issue of Jazz Japan.
THE AUDIO BEAT
"The sound has some of the punctuation -- booms and blats -- of New Orleans, as the band ambles through a collection of Blake's highly original compositions." Read the review here.