January, 2011

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

January 2011

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

European Tour Recap

photos, videos, etc.

saraandranWe have several mementos from Ran’s December tour of Europe, which included shows in Lithuania, Spain, Italy and Portugal:

Guitarist David “Knife” Fabris, who accompanied Ran on the trip, sent the photo at the top of the issue (featuring a feline named Pepe) and the two at the bottom right. You can see all of Knife’s trip photos here.

Knife also passed along his take on the tour:

“We battled through some tough weather, strikes and protests. But with the help of some great friends both old (Pedro Sarmiento, Luciano Linzi and Sara Serpa) and new (Jesus Alvarez Fontaneda, Danas Mikailionis and David Renau), we were able to play some strong concerts and have some wonderful experiences.

“A highlight for us both was the tour of the site of the Vilna ghetto with Fania Brantkowski, a survivor who made it out on the very night the Nazis sent off the remaining people (including her family) to the concentration camps. The concert in Vilnius was dedicated to her and I think provided some inspired playing which was recorded for a forthcoming release on NoBusiness records.

“In search of happier memories, Ran revisited his own past when we dined at a grand old restaurant in Rome which he and Jeanne Lee stumbled upon in 1964. Ran played a brilliant tribute to Jeanne (“We’ll Be Together Again”) the following night at the Casa Del Jazz, which will be part of a second live CD from this tour on Tompkins Square.”

Finally, you’ll no doubt enjoy checking out these two videos on Vimeo of Ran performing with Sara Serpa on December 19 in Lisbon at Trem Azul. Just click on the links below and then press play:

Get Out of Town

Short Life of Barbara Monk

Shadows in Cadence

“as vital as ever”

The first quarter issue of Cadence magazine (not available online) includes a review of Out of the Shadows in a roundup of five piano-based albums.

Critic Grego Applegate Edwards writes: “Now, if you don’t like Ran Blake nothing I say will make a difference, though I will maintain that he is as vital as ever. He doesn’t do what is ‘expected’ of a pianist with this material. And essentially he’s been doing things this way for what, 50 years? … I like this one. Love it. It’s another good milestone in the Blake corpus and an auspicious vocal performance by Ms. Correa. Recommended for those who get sick of the standard treatment of standards.”

Also, in its January issue, All About Jazz New York includes Out of the Shadows as one of its top five vocal releases of 2010 (see page 26).

As always, you can reach Ran directly at ran@ranblake.com, and you can read back issues here.To learn more about studying at NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation Department, visit the department’s website or contact Department Chairperson Hankus Netsky.

George Russell Tribute Album

Autumn in New York

georgerussell Last August Ran recorded a tribute album to George Russell at the New England Conservatory. Russell, an educator, composer and musician, as well as a friend and colleague of Ran’s, died in July 2009.

The album, on HatHut Records, is tentatively titled Autumn in New York: Russell Noir. A release date has yet to be set.

During the two-day session, Ran and a dozen NEC alumni and students recorded 17 songs, including well-known Russell compositions such as “Stratusphunk” and “Ezz-Thetic.” They also recorded several songs of Ran’s and a few standards.

Participating musicians included Rachel Massey (violin), Doug Pet (tenor saxophone) Peter Kenagy (trumpet), Aaron Hartley (trombone), Ryan Dugre (guitar), David “Knife” Fabris (pedal steel guitar), Brad Barrett (bass), Eric Lane (piano), Jason Yeager (piano) Charles Burchell (drums, timpani, vibraphone), David Flaherty (drums, timpani), and Luke Moldof (electronics).

The musicians recorded in a range of combinations, with Ran playing solo at times and being accompanied by small and large groups at others. Ran played electric piano on several songs, which marks a first for Ran’s own recordings. Art Lange, who has worked with Ran on several earlier albums, produced the session.

Ran and Dominique Live

February 17

Here’s a treat for Ran’s New England-based fans: Ran and vocalist Dominique Eade will perform a free concert together at MIT on Thursday, February 17.

The 8 p.m. performance, titled “Two of a Kind,” is part of MIT’s Thursday Killian Hall Jazz Series. Killian Hall is in the MIT Hayden Library Building at 160 Memorial Drive in Cambridge.

Read more about it here.

headphonesRelaxing with Stevie Wonder between tour stops.

playingRehearsing before a show.

We’ll see you in February.
–Steve

Vol. 7, No. 1