New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Pioneering cello player, composer, singer and educator, Mike Block, has announced his latest album, Guzo, for an August 21 release on Bright Shiny Things. Guzo, which combines elements of North African, Middle Eastern and Persian musical traditions, will be Block's third album, in three different genres, in less than one year. In conjunction, Block has released the record's first single, "Expression of Concern," featuring Syrian oud virtuoso Kinan Adnawi, today. Pre-order Guzo here.
A GRAMMY Award winner with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, Block studied and trained in the classical world at The Julliard School and Cleveland Institute
of Music, but his curiosity and imagination as a musician knows no bounds or borders. On Guzo, Block taps into fellow members of Silk Road Ensemble, students from Silkroad's Global Musician Workshop, of which Block is an instructor, and musicians Block has met along his travels throughout the world.
Guzo means "journey" in the Amharic language. The record features eight original compositions, each inspired by a different culture and style of music: Malian, Levantine Arabic, Indian, Nigerian, Persian, Gulf Arabic (Khaliji), Ethiopian, and Chinese. Inspired by the idea that different parts of our personality manifest when interacting with different types of people (i.e. you act differently around your boss than with your friends), or when you are in different environments (you act differently at home than at church), Block, "wanted to see what kind of composer I might become within different musical environments and languages."
Each composition was recorded collaboratively with musicians native to each style, "many of whom are close friends that I could trust with my vulnerability as I invited them into my compositional and arranging process," Block states. "My goal was for the musicians featured on each piece to feel they could play naturally in their native language, while finding how my own personal voice translated to that language." The journey that resulted for Mike, is both personal and social, internal and external, psychological and geographic.
Yo-Yo Ma has hailed Block, as the "ideal musician of the 21st-Century." The New York Times praised Block for his "vital rich-hued solo playing." Mike has also collaborated in performance and recordings with Stevie Wonder, Bon Iver, St. Vincent, The National, Will.i.am, The New York Philharmonic, Bobby
Krauss, Mark O'Connor, Edgar Meyer, Mike Marshall, Julian Lage, Rhiannon Giddens, Sierra
Jarosz, Aoife O'Donovan, Natalia
McMaster, Bruce Molsky, Darol Anger, Zakir Hussain, and Rachel Pine, amongst others.