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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Michael Blake & Kresten Osgood - Control This (Cleanfeed, 2009) ****

This album has all the qualities that you would expect from a fully improvised sax & drums duo: open dialogues, no constraints, the search for intimacy and relevant expressiveness. Michael Blake is a wonderful musician, who - like fellow saxman David Binney - has too many faces to have a very distinct profile, and yet he is truly good in many styles, as an instrumentalist, but especially as a musician, with a great sense for melody and emotional warmth, which makes most of his albums quite accessible, even in the less common format of a duo session, here with Danish drummer Kresten Osgood. Osgood is the perfect match for Blake, because he has the same versatility and sense of lyricism that makes the interaction interesting and enjoyable throughout. One track, "Creole Love Call" has been dubbed afterwards, and although at first listens I found the contrast with the other tracks a little disturbing, but the piece's theme is so beautiful and the fully improvised middle section of the track is so good that I now look forward to listening to it. The improvised pieces have this inviting quality, centered around themes, with an uncannily focused approach, whether it's the nice, almost traditional melody of "Top Hat", or the exquisitely fun, almost visual interaction on "Elephants Are Afraid Of Mice", or the almost telepathic tempo changes on "Cotton Mouth", a rhythmic delight. The long last track ends in some in-the-moment fun between the two musicians, including loud bursts of laughter. Great fun indeed.

Listen to
Control This.

Listen and download from eMusic.

© stef