January, 2008

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

January 2008

playing

 

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

photo #1

sitting

Italian Newspaper Review

“sparkling purity…”

In November and December Ran performed in France, Germany and Italy, often accompanied by guitarist David “Knife” Fabris. The duo’s show at Rome’s Casa del Jazz received a favorable review in Il Manifesto, an Italian newspaper. Excerpts of a translation follow (thanks to Massimo Sammi):

“A powerful sound, rich with harmonics, dissonant chords hitting like a sword, sculpted-like notes with sparkling purity … 72-year old pianist Ran Blake did not disappoint … [with Fabris, the duo] performed a chamber concert in which many sound cliches of contemporary jazz were clearly avoided.

“The sense of adventure and thrill, the taste of the unpredictable, the lively sensation of discovery flew in the tunes in which the two instruments were both blended and distinguished themselves, with wide individual spaces.

“Fabris demonstrated he is technically skilled and linguistically innovative … his slide guitar dizzied the tunes, pulling them in a mood halfway between blues and avant-garde. The feeling between the two players was very empathic, reminiscent of Lennie Tristano/Billy Bauer or Bill Evans/Jim Hall.

“Blake produced a clear and raw sound, alternated with wide chords, full of dissonances … It might be the language influenced by movies — with immediate close-ups, cross-fadings, still-captures — but Blake’s piano really stands out for his modernity.”

photo #2

ran and jason

About the Photos

The photos in this issue were forwarded by Adam Mills, a musician and photographer studying at MassArt and the Boston Conservatory. Adam shot them as Ran gave a lesson to Jason Belcher, an NEC student. You can hear Jason’s music, some of which features Adam, on Jason’s myspace page.

New Album Planned
solo piano

Ran has started recording his next album, a solo set of interpretations of songs associated with his favorite vocalists.

Jonah Kraut, Ran’s longtime friend and former assistant at NEC, is producing the album. So far there have been two sessions, and Jonah says the music has a very relaxed, emotive and contemplative feel.

Tentatively titled “Driftwoods,” the album will likely feature tracks that pay tribute to Chris Connor, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Hank Williams.

It also will include “Dancing in the Dark” as a tribute to Dorothy Wallace, a patron of the arts and a supporter of Ran’s music who died in 2001. Ran has performed this song often in recent years but has never recorded it.

Expect a release this summer or fall — we’ll keep you posted.

photo #3

pausing

Third Stream Orgy

on Harvard radio this Monday

radioAs part of its annual “Winter Orgy” programming, Harvard’s WHRB is doing a daylong show of music by Third Stream artists, including Ran, Gunther Schuller and others.

The shows airs this Monday (the 29th) from 10 a.m. to midnight. To listen, tune in to 95.3 FM, or stream it on your computer through the station’s website.

We’ll see you in February.
–Steve
Vol. 4, No.1