“Cry of the East”
The title of saxophonist and composer Dan Blake’s latest album Da Fé (Sunnyside) translates to “of faith,” a term many may link to the “auto da fé,” a particularly grim component of the Spanish Inquisition in which heretics were burned alive. Blake, a practicing Buddhist, hopes to reclaim the words and to gin up faith in a better future for the Earth and its inhabitants. He’s particularly alarmed by the climate catastrophe that’s engulfed the planet, while realizing that faith — as opposed to hopelessness — is the only way to right the ship. The saxophonist, whose credits run from Esperanza Spalding to Anthony Braxton, expresses concern for other pressing world matters through his music, including the plight of the Palestinian people — indeed, all people who’ve suffered because of policies of the West — to which he dedicates the track “Cry of the East.” Inspired by John Coltrane, Blake plays a sinewy soprano, his buoyant, yearning tone supported by pianist Carmen Staaf, keyboardist Leo Genovese, bassist Dmitry Ishenko and drummer Jeff Williams. Interestingly, Blake says his purchase of Coltrane’s rather thorny album Meditations when he was 12 years old nearly scared him away from jazz. However, he stuck with it and now lists the album among his favorites.