Let’s talk about Mike Block, shall we?
Yesterday I sat in my car for a drive out to Weston, where I currently teach Jazz Strings. First student of the year! On the way back, I decided to give Avenue Q a rest, and sifted through some disks on my cd tower. Down on the bottom was this album:
Which was burned for me by a friend and avid Block-er.
I’m glad I found it again, as I’ve been meaning to give it another listen. So I popped it in and once again marveled at how a group with no high-end lead instrument could still sound so melodic and play such singable tunes!
Mike Block’s playing is a testament to the range of the cello. No questions asked. If you want to hear flawless proficiency in the higher positions of the cello, listen to “The Moose Escapeth,” a tune just ripe with string ensemble arrangement possibilities… with a melody that Mike plays in four octaves throughout the tune, you can really see the possibilities for writing with a few instruments in mind.
The Moose Escapeth! Is not on Grooveshark, sadly. But listen to the samples on his CD Baby page, linked above!
The opening track, 8th of January, shows off looping and layering lines on cello, and how it blends with bass and some soft-playing drums. You can hear Mike’s lyrical tone around splashes of cymbals and the hypnotic bass arpeggios. When the melody comes in, the sheer skill of his cello playing washes over you almost surprisingly. Sweet, sincere, and very fluid and continuous is his tone, without a single nick or crunch from the bow.
It’s like a swell of joy at hearing the unbridled laugh of that cute girl you like. Mike’s playing has a beautiful sound, a beautiful tone, and it gives you a happy feeling without warning.
My favorite track, hands down, if only for the title, is “The Earthquake Fell In Love With The Tornado.” It sounds uplifting AND experiments with 7/8! Score!
“After The Factory Closes” is the only album I have of the Mike Block Band, but they do have another on CD Baby. Mike himself has some other projects out there as well – He plays with Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings, The Knights, and the Triborough Trio. He’s released an album with the Sirius Quartet, which IS on Grooveshark.
Find out more about Mike Block and other awesome cellists by tuning back in soon! Happy Surfing in the meantime!