The Aquarian Suite
Featuring: Dan Blake (saxophone, compositions), Jason Palmer (trumpet), Jorge Roeder (bass) + Richie Barshay (drums, percussion)
“He will do justice to any musical situation.” – Danilo Pérez
"The narrative that permeates all of the compositions so beautifully embodies this deep sense of imagination, a brilliantly unique sound and musical vision. What also knocks me out is the incredible amount of adventure, humor, musical storytelling, and love that lives within each track. The powerful chemistry that exists between this band is completely infectious and invites the listener into a world of stunning compositions and musical interaction of the highest order. Listening to this record really makes me fall in love with music, over and over again." – Julian Lage
“One of the most adventurous and diverse young players I have heard in some time” – Dave Liebman
“Dan’s playing and writing is very adventurous and sets an open pallet due to the piano-less approach, which makes The Aquarian Suite feel open, free, but keeps on cookin’. This project represents a new generation of artists exploring jazz and taking it to the next level.” – Larry Rosen (GRP, Legends of Jazz, Jazz Roots)
Saxophonist/composer Dan Blake has appeared on recordings and in performances with a staggering array of high profile artists, such as Esperanza Spalding, Anthony Braxton, Kenny Werner, Julian Lage, Herbie Hancock, Danilo Perez, and many others. He is currently in demand as a saxophonist, and is a regular member of Lukas Ligeti’s Kaleidoscope Point, Peter Evans’ Sparks Orchestra, and composes and performs with the Grammy-nominated Julian Lage Group. As a recording artist, Blake is a featured soloist on Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding’s forthcoming Radio Music Society, Anthony Braxton’s opera Trillium E, and a featured artist on Danilo Perez’s Grammy-nominated, Panama Suite. Blake is currently a Ph.D. candidate in composition at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and serves as adjunct lecturer in music history at The Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College. He was recently awarded the 2010 Baisley Powell Elebash Fund for an ongoing research project examining New York City’s improvised music scene.
With Blake’s The Aquarian Suite, to be released on Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records on October 17, you have a recipe for a wildly successful jazz recording; eight new jazz compositions for “chordless quartet” that stretch the boundaries of modern jazz while staying true to the forms set by the masters; a “Mingus meets Monk” quality of blues-inflection, compositional unity, and ever-present melodicism; and an incredible band comprised of Blake on tenor saxophone, Jason Palmer (Greg Osby, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Roy Haynes, Ravi Coltrane, etc) on trumpet, Jorge Roeder (Gary Burton, Julian Lage, Alex Acuna, Maria Schneider) on bass, and the ubiquitous Richie Barshay (Herbie Hancock, Esperanza Spalding, Lee Konitz, Chick Corea, etc) on drums and percussion.
While Blake’s previous recording, The Party Suite, represents his own personal revelation that the history of early jazz is in fact a raucous celebration of life and the endless possibilities to experience joy in its many facets, The Aquarian Suite, “connects to the tumultuous and fertile energy of the bebop revolution, in an effort to further expand my understanding of tradition and how it relates to my life as a musician. By connecting to a rich musical heritage and claiming it as my own, The Aquarian Suite is for me a ‘water bearer’; a sonic body through which a hopeful transition between tradition and the potential for a greater future can flow easefully and with great joy”, states Blake.
Other highlights on the recording include, “You Cry So Pretty”, a ballad dedicated to Miles Davis; the title track, “Aquarian”, which is “dedicated to Anthony Braxton, an icon of creative music. This piece imagines an expanded terrain for jazz improvisation”, explains Blake; and the closing piece, “Epilogue: Cavemen Do It Too”. Blake describes the meaning behind this composition, “I have long been a proponent of a rugged approach to performing, as I feel people can connect with those performances that abandon the overly self-conscious mindset in favor of the immediacy of now. This piece, and my music in general, is a celebration of that human ability to not take oneself too seriously, to enjoy life as it is. I imagine that quality has been around since the cavemen (and women), and whatever it is we do, we can be sure that the cavemen did it too!”
The Aquarian Suite
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