April, 2006

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

April 2006

At Piano


Welcome to the April issue of Ran’s monthly newsletter.

March Shows in NYC and Cambridge

Thanks to everyone who attended

Ran would like to thank everyone who came to his shows with Charles Gayle at the Stone in New York City and at MIT in Cambridge, especially those who traveled long distances. Both shows sold out, and the Boston Globe favorably reviewed the MIT show: “Blake has a vividly cinematic imagination and can create great drama with very few notes. His touch on the keys verges on the uncanny, especially when he plays pin-drop pianissimo. On Saturday night, Blake chose to perform with the stage lights dimmed, creating an eerie atmosphere that complemented the film noir shadows of his music.”

CD Reviews

All That Is Tied

Tied Cover
All That Is Tied has received favorable reviews around the globe. Here are some excerpts:

“Except for his mentor Gunther Schuller, he probably has the best ears in town. Dark dissonances, blues, and pop-song melodies create dream narratives on All That Is Tied, song after song, each chord, each move suggesting its own association, its own memory. The songs are all slow-moving, even tempo-less, but his stories are edge-of-your-seat riveting.”
Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix

“Blake has, with his hands, feet and a piano, made an incredibly dramatic and eclectic album of solo music that ranges in mood from delicate to jarring…the music is wholly unique.”
Ed Symkus, TAB Newspapers

“…even if All That Is Tied had landed on the desk anonymously, without herald and no expectation based on past form, you would know you were in the presence of something magical and important. A truly great record … a masterpiece…”
Brian Morton, The WIRE

“Nobody broods quite like Blake — his moodiness draws you in. Instead of Bernard Herrmann or Stevie Wonder, he reinterprets himself on All That Is Tied.”
Francis Davis, Village Voice

“…the appearance of any new Blake album is always something to write home about, especially when it’s as good as this. His total mastery of the pedals will have any pianist nodding admiringly. It’s a sound that means business — every one of Blake’s notes is there for a reason…Ran Blake hits the bullseye every time.”
Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic

“With only a few gestures, he can recount entire traditions: from glances at Gershwin, to frequent winks at Monk, to sad nods toward Gould and Conrad. A collision of this scale has never sounded so lovely — or so lonely.”
Michael Brodeur, Weekly Dig

“His sense of fun is an integral part of his makeup, and he continues to explore it delightfully. Even as he examines freedom, breaking up time and pulse, he goes back to swiftly kiss the melody, though he does linger on occasion. That is part of the magic he dispels.”
Jerry D’Souza, AllAboutJazz.com

“What is extraordinary about this disc is that no one plays quite like Ran Blake, so here we have a treasure chest of Ran’s own songs played in his own completely unique way.”
Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

Additional Excerpts

Tompkins Square Records

Upcoming Performances

Amsterdam and Antwerp

Black BagOn Friday, April 21, Ran plays a duo gig at 9 p.m. with guitarist David “Knife” Fabris at The Bimhuis in Amsterdam. And on Sunday, April 23, Ran performs solo at 2 p.m. at the de Singel International Arts Centre in Antwerp, Belgium as part of Thelonious Monk festival. Ran will also perform solo in Paris on July 7.

Ran’s Health
Scheduled Sinus Surgery

As many of you know, Ran has been bothered by congestion and coughing for the last year or so. Recently he was diagnosed with chronic sinusitis. Basically, his symptoms result from blocked sinuses, and this can be corrected with surgery. So shortly after returning from Europe, he will undergo sinus surgery in Boston. After recovering for a few weeks, the doctors expect that Ran’s symptoms will occur much less frequently and that he will feel better overall.

August Intensive Study Course

Dimitri Shostakovich

ShostakovichEach August Ran offers an intensive weeklong course on one musician. This year’s subject is the Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich. If you have questions about the course, contact Ran at ran@ranblake.com. For information on registration, please contact NEC’s Margaret Ulmer (mulmer@newenglandconservatory.edu).

Course Information

Video of Ran Playing at Home

Alone at the Piano

In case you couldn’t make it to one of Ran’s recent performances, here’s a short video clip of him improvising at home. It should open with both sound and video in Apple Quicktime and other players compatible with the MP4 format. If clicking on the link does not work, open your music player and then copy and paste the link into the place in your music player where URLs go.

Ran Blake Archive

Coming Soon at NEC

The New England Conservatory is creating an archive on Ran as part of a larger jazz archive project at the school’s library. Ran’s section will include digitized recordings of live performances at NEC, a print compilation of over 60 original compositions, and administrative papers generated by the Department of Contemporary Improvisation, which Ran chaired for 30 years. The archive also will include concert programs, newspaper clippings and correspondence. We’ll have more details in a few months as the project nears completion.

Boston Globe Feature

…a little noir music

On March 31 Ran was the subject of a lengthy feature in the Boston Globe by Bill Beuttler. The story, “From Ran Blake, a little noir music,” appeared on the front of the arts section. It said Ran’s “influence as a teacher has been immense” and noted that “several of Blake’s students — genre benders such as Don Byron, Matthew Shipp, and John Medeski — have gone on to exert their own influence on jazz.”

See you next month. In the meantime, you can always check the biography page on ranblake.com for new announcements.