Vertical Squirrels in Double Bill with Michael Blake's Variety Hour

3rd february 2013 guelph
macdonald stewart art centre (358 gordon st, guelph)
$15 or pwyc


NYC based Canadian saxophonist Michael Blake (Lounge Lizards, Slow Poke, Jazz Composers Collective) is back with a star-studded new Vancouver quartet. Their music covers a lot of ground, from electro-acoustic, cinematic soundscapes to straight-up postbop and soul. Let's call it jazz.

Michael Blake saxophone
JP Carter trumpet treated
Chris Gestrin Fender Rhodes and Micromoog bass
Dylan van der Schyff drums

Saxophonist and composer Michael Blake was born in Montreal, Canada and raised in Vancouver, BC. He moved to New York City in 1986 where he has established an international reputation in the field of jazz. He has released 10 critically acclaimed CD’s under his own name ranging from original contemporary concept albums (Kingdom of Champa, Amor de Cosmos) to mainstream projects, such as his tribute to the under-recognized saxophonist Lucky Thompson. Michael has received study, commission and travel grants from Canada Council (1986, 2000 and 2002) and he received Chamber Music America’s Doris Duke grant for ‘New Jazz Works’. Michael is a faculty member at Europe’s oldest jazz masters program, Siena’s Fondazione di Jazz in Italy, where he has taught along side Kenny Werner, Rufus Reid, Greg Osby and Enrico Rava. Blake has performed at jazz festivals worldwide and has conducted workshops in Canada, Italy, Brazil, Denmark and Portugal. His work has been profiled in the New York Times, Downbeat, The New Yorker, The Globe and Mail, All About Jazz as well as many online, European and Canadian music journals. In 2002 he was recognized in Downbeat Magazine’s 50th Annual Critics Poll for Talent Deserving Wider Recognition categories for tenor sax, soprano sax and jazz artist of the year. Among the many artists he has recorded and performed with are The Lounge Lizards, Ben Allison, Oliver Lake, Medeski Martin and Wood, Ray Lamontagne, Lee konitz, Frank Kimbrough, Ted Nash, Enrico Rava, Stefano Bollani, The Gil Evans Orchestra, Ben E. King, Neil Sedaka, Tricky, Prince Paul, Natalie Cole, Steven Bernstein, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Hal Wilner, Sir Coxsone Dodd and Pinetop Perkins.


Like the music they play, the Vertical Squirrels came together through a mixture of chance and perseverance. Long-time collaborators in and outside the academy (in projects musical and non- musical), Daniel Fischlin, Ajay Heble, and Lewis Melville started officially playing together as a group in 2008. Starting partially as an informal outlet to get Heble back into playing piano after years of curating the Guelph Jazz Festival (but rarely performing himself), the Vertical Squirrels quickly morphed into a recording and gigging band focused on their distinctive brand of in-the-moment improvisation. They bring together years of diverse individual musical experiences, a sense of humor and friendship to their playing, and a deep commitment to multiple forms of sonic expression and freedom.

Daniel Fischlin guitars and devices
Ajay Heble piano and keyboards
Lewis Melville pedal steel, bass, horn, things
Ted Warren drums and percussion