June, 2006

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

June 2006

At Piano


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

NEC Awards Ran Honorary Degree

At the NEC commencement on May 21, Ran received an honorary degree. A certificate commemorating the award states:

“His image-laden piano style is haunting and unforgettable, and his innovative, aural-based teaching approach has promoted extraordinary individuality. With matchless charm and a black bag bursting with musical ideas, he has helped shape bold, balanced musicians who care for history and for each other.”

Hankus Netsky, who teaches improvisation and Jewish music at the Conservatory, delivered an eloquent introduction, excerpts of which follow:

“Ran has guided me, as he has guided a varied and distinguished cadre of other musicans, providing a model for a life in music that is truly an _expression of one’s own personal essence, a life of perpetual learning and constant reinterpretation, a life of artistic _expression without even a hint of compromise.

“Ran weaves a dense musical narrative informed by sources known and unknown: the field holler, the gospel shout, the transcendentalism of Charles Ives, the cafes of Athens, the cries of the displaced, the mysterious look James Stewart gives Kim Novak in Vertigo. It’s all part of his musical self portrait, a signature sound that has inspired so many of us…”

Click here to read the full text of Hankus’ introduction.

Photos from April Trip to Europe

antwerpRan’s guitarist, David “Knife” Fabris, sent along photos from Ran’s trip to Amsterdam and Antwerp in April. Here’s a shot of Ran and Knife in Antwerp.

You can see more photos from the trip, including one of Ran with the world’s biggest pepper shaker, here and here.

Subscriber Corner

Tell Us About Your Musical Activities

Many of Ran’s students and friends are musicians. So we’d like to spotlight some of your activities. If you have released an album in 2006 or plan to, send an email to stevemardon@yahoo.com with links to information about it and we’ll include a brief description in an upcoming issue.

Upcoming Performance

Paris

Black BagRan performs solo on Friday, July 7 at 10:30 p.m. at the Theatre du Chatelet. The McCoy Tyner Septet plays at 8 p.m. Ran is excited to perform for the second straight year at this illustrious theater.

All That Is Tied Now Available Through ranblake.com

Tied CoverAlong with many of Ran’s other CD’s, you can now purchase his most recent album, All That Is Tied, directly through ranblake.com.

Album Spotlight

Suffield Gothic

suffieldFor the next few months, we’ll be highlighting some of Ran’s most memorable albums. We’ll start with what Ran considers his most personal album, Suffield Gothic, released in 1984 on the Soul Note label.

Ran refers to this album as his musical autobiography. Suffield is the town in Connecticut where Ran grew up, and many of the album’s compositions were inspired by people and places in his early life. For example, “Curtis” was inspired by a friend from Roxbury who often visited Ran in Suffield. Other original compositions on the album are “Vanguard,” “Indian Winter,” and “Midnight Local to Tate County.”

The album also features Ran’s interpretations of “There’s Been a Change” (by Hubert Powell), “Old Man River,” “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and several songs associated with Mahalia Jackson.

Another notable aspect of the album is that Houston Person appears on four songs. Ran first came to know Person as a teenager in 1955 when the tenor saxophonist performed in Suffield, so the album represented a reunion of old friends.

 

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