Blake A. Newman: Long Bio
Bassist and composer Blake Newman was born in New York City and was drawn to music at an early age. He entertained himself for hours on end by playing piano. When he was 11 his family moved to Florida and soon thereafter he began taking lessons on viola, eventually settling on Double-bass followed by bass guitar soon after. Following highschool he spent a year in San Francisco before moving to Boston to study at Berklee College. He has called the Boston area home ever since.
Blake has always had a flair for the exotic and his musical tastes have been no exception. He's had the good fortune to be able to explore a wide array of musical traditions with some great musicians.
He spent six years performing and recording with West African Mbalax band, Ibrahima Camara and Safal, which culminated with a tour of Senegal in 1997.
He spent four years as a member of MIT’s Balinese gamelan orchestra, Gamelan Galak Tika, performing at New York's Lincoln Center and Winter Garden among other venues. With this group, led by composer/instrumentalist Evan Ziporyn, Blake appears on the CDs,"Gamelan Galak Tika" (2000, New World Records) and "Dangerous Things" (2002). As a guest artist with the group, he performed at Carnegie Hall and on a tour of Bali in 2005. In the spring of 2007, Blake played Double bass on Ziporyn’s composition for gamelan and string Orchestra, entitled Bayu Sabda Idep. More recently he has played many concerts as a guest soloist with Galak Tika including performances at Vassar Cllege, Univ. of S. Carolina, Cleveland Musuem of Fine Arts, Berklee College of Music, Yale Univ., and Alice Tully Hall (2012). He also recorded "Bronz Age Space Age" (2009) with the group.
In 1999 Blake joined the Bruce Katz Band and spent three years anchoring the hard rocking American roots band. A year after joining the band, he recorded “Three Feet off the Ground” (2000, Audioquest), which was met with great international acclaim. During his tenure in the band, Blake performed on multiple U.S. and European tours as well as many blues and Jazz festivals in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and Scandinavia.
In 2004, Blake performed in the American Repertory Theater's production of Oedipus, directed by Robert Woodruff with music composed by Evan Ziporyn. He returned to the ART in the spring of 2006 for the production OrpheusX, created by Rinde Eckert and again directed by Wooduff. In August 2007, he traveled to Scotland, where OrpheusX was presented at the International Festival in Edinburgh. In February 2008, Blake travelled with the ART to present OrpheusX at the Hong Kong International Festival of the Arts. In 2009 OrphuesX had a run at New York's Theatre for A New Audience. Also in 2008, Blake organized and performed in a jazz trio for the ART production of Julius Caesar, directed by Arthur Nauzyciel. That production has since gone on to be staged for multiple tours of France (2009 and 2010) as well as the Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro de Bogotá in 2012. In 2010/2011 Blake performed in the ART production of The Blue Flower as a substitute bassist for fifteen performances.
In 2007 Blake was asked by John Kelly to perform in his show Paved Paradise: the Music of Joni Mitchell at the Theater Offensive in Boston. Following that week long run there were performances at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in 2009, Real Artways in Hartford in 2009, Bard College in 2008 and 2010, and the One World Theater in Austin TX and the Crowly Theater in Marfa TX, also in 2010.
Blake is a founding member of the Jeff Robinson Trio, a music and spoken word group. The band has been hosting a “poetry jam” at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge MA for the past sixteen years. They released “Next on the Mic” (2007 Rounder Records), and have performed with poets Amiri Baraka, Patricia Smith, Regie Gibson, Askia Toure and Quincy Troupe among others.
In 2004 Blake began playing in composer/saxophonist Ken Field's group the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, which plays the music of New Orleans street and second line bands. With the group Blake has travelled throughout the Northeastern US, playing at numerous clubs and festivals.
In 2008 Blake joined the group MusAner which plays traditional Armenian and Eastern Euopean melodies arranged in a modern setting for both western jazz intsruments as well as indigenous instruments. The group toured Italy and Switzerland in 2010 and continues to play venues on the East coast of the US. They recorded "MusAner" in 2009 and "Once Upon A Time" in 2012.
As a composer, Blake’s musical score was featured in the May 2007 theatrical production of Andrea Bredbeck's “As if We Live to Bear No Scars,” presented at the Roxbury Center for the Arts.
As a freelance bassist, Blake has performed and/or recorded with David Murray, Ran Blake, Big Jack Johnson, Ken Field, Duke Robillard, Butch Morris, KennyWolleson, Joe Beard, Michelle Wilson, John Sinclair, Peter Wolf, David Maxwell, Mamadou Diop, Toni Lynn Washington, Charles Neville and Jon Faddis.
Blake has studied privately with Charlie Bonacas, Dave Holland, Charlie Haden, and Gary Peacock.
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