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Mike Block Releases 'When The Birds Sing Along In The Morning' with Yo-Yo Ma

Block's new record, Machines That Fly, is set for a March 4 release.

Mike Block Releases 'When The Birds Sing Along In The Morning' with Yo-Yo Ma

Fresh off the release of his solo cello improvisational album, Planispheres, last month, the ever prolific Mike Block, has released a new single, "When The Birds Sing Along In The Morning" feat. Yo-Yo Ma, to a new record, Machines That Fly, for a March 4 release via Bright Shiny Things.

Machines That Fly features three new songs, plus seven solo cello reinterpretations of songs from his 2020 album, The Edge of the Atmosphere. Pre-order Machines That Fly here.

"When The Birds Sing Along In The Morning" is a puzzle piece of a song, featuring the album title, as well as much of what inspired this collection of music. Block added, "This song features many lyrics pulled from the memoir of the legendary cellist, Pablo Casals, called 'Joys and Sorrows'. The title of the album, itself, comes from a phrase Casals (born 1876) remembered his father telling him as a young boy: 'when you grow up, there will be machines that fly'. There are also musical quotes featured, including a Bach Chorale (Casals was known to 'bless the house' each morning by playing one of these on the piano), as well as the famous Catalan folk song, 'Song of the Birds', which was associated with Casals throughout his life."

Regarding the video for the track, Block continued, "It was especially meaningful for me to create this video collaboration with my friend and mentor, Yo-Yo Ma, filmed remotely during the pandemic. Not only is Yo-Yo's legacy as a cellist uniquely comparable to Casals' life, but Yo-Yo has drawn direct inspiration from Casals as well, often publicly referencing a famous quote from Casals in which he proudly proclaimed, 'I am a citizen first, and a musician second'. Yo-Yo's personal connection to Casal's core philosophy made this resulting performance all the more powerful for me to be a part of, and it is an honor to share this with the world."

The need to reinterpret The Edge of the Atmosphere was born out of necessity, with the pandemic lockdown making it impossible for Block to connect in person with the musicians he created this full-band album with. And the task ended up being a more formidable one than he had imagined. Discussing, he noted, "I initially had the intention of meticulously recreating the full band arrangements by combining multiple lines into a composite cello groove, even trying to hint at the remaining parts I couldn't actively play. On a technical level, it was actually one of the most difficult arrangement/coordination challenges I have ever undertaken. But over time, these solo arrangements took on a life of their own."

Over the course of the past two+ years, Mike Block has proved prolific, with seven full-length albums, encompassing a wide array of genres and instrumentation, leading American Songwriter to state, "Mike Block exemplifies true musicianship." A GRAMMY Award winner with Silkroad, Block studied and trained in the classical world at The Juilliard School, but his curiosity and imagination as a musician knows no bounds or borders. 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."

Listen to the new single here:

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From This Author - Michael Major