Oliver Lake is sitting at his dining room table in Montclair, N.J., on a recent afternoon, hands folded in front of him, back poised and upright. The 72-year-old alto saxophonist looks like he could be taking in the scenery for the first time, or gauging whether something has changed. On the walls, his bright paintings hang beside his children’s scholastic awards. An original Pac-Man machine sits in the hallway, and somehow it’s not out of place.
In the dining room, papers and CDs are sprawled on the table-here’s his latest album, To Roy (Intakt), a bluesy and intimate effort recorded last year in duo with bassist William Parker. There’s an art book of his paintings and poetry. Wedged into its pages is a sheet of paper listing recent releases on Lake’s label, Passin’ Thru.