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A True Musical ‘Guzo’: Mike Block Interview

ArtistWorks Cello Master Mike Block is a pioneering cello player, singer, composer, and educator, hailed by Yo-Yo Ma as the "ideal musician of the 21st-Century." Block’s genre bending approach to composition, along with his virtuoso playing has led to collaborations with a wide variety of artists. Block’s music is constantly challenging his listeners’ expectations, including performances and recordings with artists ranging from Will.I.Am. to the New York Philharmonic.

It is in that same collaborative and boundary-breaking spirit that Mike Block releases his new album Guzo. Meaning “journey” in the Amharic language, Guzo features eight original compositions, each inspired by a different culture and style of music: Malian, Levantine Arabic, Indian, Nigerian, Persian, Gulf Arabic (Khaliji), Ethiopian, and Chinese. For Mike, “The journey that resulted is both personal and social, internal and external, psychological and geographic.”

We spoke with Mike Block to get some more insight into this fascinating album, check out what he had to say:

First off, how are you holding up during this pandemic?
The obvious silver lining is all the family time, particularly with our 17 month old daughter.  But the fear of getting sick has hit home a few times for us, and we're very grateful to be healthy so far.

How much of this album was completed pre-COVID?
This album was entirely composed and recorded pre-COVID, actually!

This album consists of eight tracks that are each inspired by a different culture. How did you go about selecting the theme for each track?
Each track was really born out of friendships with the featured musicians.  I love collaborating with musicians of different backgrounds, so it was an extra step for me to ask the collaborators not to just continue teaching me repertoire from their traditions, but help me see how my compositional voice would be expressed in their  musical language.

Guzo literally translates to "journey" in the Amharic language. What can listeners expect as they embark on this album's musical journey?
It will feel like a series of invigorating and deep conversations among friends, drawing on music from across the globe.

How are you celebrating the release of this album?
I'm performing in an online concert on Saturday Aug 22 at 5 and 8p ET, co-presented by the NYC venue The Cell with my record label, Bright Shiny Things

How are you staying creative during quarantine?
I've enjoyed the extra practice time, and lots of home recording.  I'm looking forward to composing more music, both instrumental and songs, this fall!

Where can people buy this album?
You can buy physical and digital copies of Guzo at:


Interested in learning from a master musician like Mike Block? Check out these free sample cello lessons and see what all of the hype is about. Then, when you’re ready, come check out our full online music lessons and see what makes ArtistWorks stand out from the competition.



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