June, 2012

June 2012

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

Photo by José Sarmiento Matos

Port Profile

“The Cinematographer of Jazz”

portPort, a London-based magazine, included a short feature on Ran in its summer issue by Dominic Power titled “The Cinematographer of Jazz.” Excerpts follow:

“Ran Blake’s music exists somewhere between American vernacular and European classicism, full of irregular spaces and a technique that interrogates melody. …

“For all the consistency of its core values, Ran Blake’s music constantly changes and surprises. It is equally at home in the conservatory or a night club but it ideally belongs in an after hours bar at the dark end of the street, situated between a modern art museum and a deserted movie theatre, haunted by the ghosts of a thousand black and white films. The music may evoke the culture of the past but after all these years Ran Blake is still the newest sound around.” Read the full article here.

Kalamazoo Kudos

“endearing, penetrating gaze”

A number of musical luminaries performed at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo, Mich., last April, but critic John Ephland thought Ran’s performance was the highlight. In a festival overview on jambands.com, Ephland wrote:

“Best overall: the endearing, penetrating gaze of pianist Ran Blake. A tribute to Abbey Lincoln, the late Kalamazoo native and acclaimed singer, Blake’s “Nothing But The Truth: Throw It Away” song cycle offered trance-like interpretations of songs by Lincoln as well as some by those long associated with the singer, including Max Roach, Mal Waldron and R.B. Lynch. Yes, there were other note-worthies, among them Diana Krall, Pink Martini and Leif Ove Andsnes, but Blake’s simple, direct connection to another musical soul and former longtime friend reminded us of why we make and listen to music in the first place. At its best, as it was here, music is life itself.” Read the full article here.

Upcoming Shows

Toucy and Paris

bag Ran has two shows in France this month:

July 20 — Ran performs with the Ricky Ford Orchestra at the Toucy International Jazz Festival in France. Read more about the festival here.

July 27th – Ran and Sara Serpa perform at Sunside/Sunset in Paris. Read more about this show here.

Duet Album Reviews

“haunting and uplifting”

dhbDown Here Below, a duet album with vocalist Christine Correa released last March that pays tribute to Abbey Lincoln, drew favorable reviews in several prominent jazz publications this month. Excerpts follow:

Downbeat, Bob Doerschuk: “While Blake and Correa choose most of their titles from Lincoln’s oeuvre, they create something distinctive. Her style and his inward-looking understatements conjure an image of the singer standing in the spotlight, her accompanist somewhere beyond its glow, his presence elusive. Blake’s chords always seem to search but never quite find resolution.” (Digital subscription required at downbeat.com)

Lloyd Sachs, JazzTimes: “Throughout, Blake feeds and balances Correa’s outsize expression with his cool Debussian lyricism and shadowy harmonies. How he makes those distanced single notes at the end of the sublime ‘Bird Alone’ haunting and uplifting is something even he may not know.” (Digital subscription required at jazztimes.com)

AllAboutJazz, Hrayr Attarian: “Correa exudes Lincoln’s bold spirit without losing her own individuality. ‘Bird Alone’ features Correa’s emotionally raw and honest yet highly urbane and elegant interpretation, perfectly matching Blake’s advanced piano solo. … Correa’s ethereal voice and Blake’s mature pianism in this sublime artistic expression pay a unique homage to Lincoln’s legacy.” Full review.

Ran’s book, The Primacy of the Ear, is available on lulu.com. The book outlines Ran’s philosophy on development of the ear and explains how musical memory is the key to becoming a more potent musician and shaping a personal musical style.

To learn more about studying at NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation department, please visit the department’s website or contact Department Chairperson Hankus Netsky.

Thanks for reading. We’ll see you in July.
–Steve

Vol. 8, No. 6

You can read back issues here.