Demonstrating versatility and creativity, composer and trombone player Michael Lake takes listeners on an intriguing jaunt through his new recording, The Electrik Project, Volume 1. From reflective moods to party atmospheres, the recording shows traits of electro-funk, smooth jazz, and Latin dance molded into a body of work that showcases his custom-honed style.
Performing on alto trombone and keyboards, Lake is the sole sound designer operating the synthesis programming as well. His unique blend of electric and acoustic sounds has a magnetism that resembles the likes of Andre Previn.
The earthy tones of the trombone mingle with dreamy synth-based soundscapes in “Moody’s Mood for Love” as Bill Lieski’s tenor saxophone moves sensually through the lower register. Lake’s trombone suspends above the whirling electro-cinders in the underbelly of “Metamorphosis,” making for scintillating improvisations. His pairing of brass textures with synthetic sounds is intriguing, crafting a natural blend that logically would make for polar opposites.
The reflective mood of the trombone, coupled with relaxing synths through “Sound Dunes,” elicits a romantic lure comparable to the Electric Light Orchestra. Lake embraces the machine-made notes of the synths with the robust acoustic emissions of the trombone through the track.
He makes adjustments in the synths to convey a sci-fi like atmosphere in “Rattlesnake Funk” and purveys a funky groove in the carriage of “Show Me.” The mellow moods of “Artificial Intelligence” and “Treasures of Your Life” emit a nocturnal hue that segues into a pulsating dance beat along “Tin Man.”
Lake keeps his trombone as the focal voice on the recording, with the synths adding decorative frills and embellishments. He has studied with George Lewis, Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, and other members from the Art Ensemble of Chicago. His experience as a live performer exposed him to a variety of settings playing mainly jazz and Latin music with notables like Lalo Rodriguez and Frankie Ruiz. For several years, he was Ray Barretto’s trombonist. Lake’s balance between artificial ringlets and acoustic waves make for an intriguing jaunt.
Michael Lake – alto trombone, keyboard, synthesis programming and sound design; Bill Lieski – tenor saxophone on “Moody’s Mood”
“Rattlesnake Funky,” “Show Me,” “Artificial Intelligence,” “Tin Man,” “Treasures of Your Life,” “Moody’s Mood for Love,” “Metamorphosis,” “Sound Dunes”