August, 2006

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

August 2006

At Piano

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

Shostakovich Next Tuesday

free evening class at NEC

Shostakovich Ran’s weeklong August class on the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich had to be canceled due to low enrollment. But the public class at the New England Conservatory on Tuesday, August 15th is going on as scheduled, and it promises to be an exciting evening.

The class, which is free, takes place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in St. Botolph Hall at 241 St. Botolph Street.

A highlight of the evening will be a phone interview with the conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, who has recorded and performed many Shostakovich symphonies. Fred Harris, Director of Wind Ensembles at MIT, will do the interview.

The class will also include rare film footage; reflections on Shostakovich by NEC’s Alla Cohen, Berklee’s Yakov Gubanov, Holy Cross’ Eric Culver, and the Aspen Music Festival’s Alan Fletcher; and live performances by Jeffrey Levenberg (viola), Jonah Kraut (guitar), and Giacomo Merega (bass).

Please contact Jeffrey at if you have any questions about the evening.

You Stepped Out of a Cloud Reissued

1989 duet album with Jeanne Lee

steppedUniversal Music in July re-released one of Ran’s harder to find albums, You Stepped Out of a Cloud. The album, a collaboration with the late vocalist Jeanne Lee, originally came out on Owl Records.

The reissue contains the same 14 tracks as the Owl version, but the album has been remastered and now comes in the classy digipak format (instead of a plastic jewel case, the exterior is a thick cardboard folder with plastic tray glued inside).

The album was recorded live at NEC’s Jordan Hall on August 11, 1989, without an audience. It was produced by Jean-Jacques Pussiau and Francois Lemaire, with liner notes by Alain Gerber.

In addition to duets that display impressive interplay between Ran’s piano and Jeanne Lee’s powerful voice, the album includes solo performances by both artists. Ran plays unaccompanied on his haunting original piece Kristallnacht and his interpretation of Jimmy McHugh’s Where are You?

We do not have the reissue available for sale through But you may be able to find it at record stores that have a wide jazz selection. It’s also available online from Universal’s French website, or as an import from Amazon.

Although the album is not as well-known as The Newest Sound Around, Ran’s historic 1962 collection of duets with Jeanne Lee, Ran is fond of it and says many people have told them they prefer Stepped to Newest Sound.

Ran & Friends at Rutman’s

summer showcase Thursday, August 24

bag Call it a Ran Blake Production. To squeeze in some final summer musical fun before the school year starts up again, Ran has organized a show at Rutman’s Violins on August 24 that will feature performances by Ran, members of his current group, and other musical friends.

Musicians will perform in various small group combos, with most of the compositions being songs Ran wrote or has an attachment to, including pieces by Ornette Coleman, George Gershwin, and Shostakovich.

Among those slated to perform are Ran, Jonah Kraut, Joel Yennior, Alonzo Harris, Mike Murray, Brian Fitzpatrick, Sharon Hart, Jamison Swanagon, Jason Yeager, Jeffrey Levenberg, and Steve Mardon.

Rutman’s is located at 11 Westland Avenue, near Symphony Hall. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. There is a suggested $9 donation ($6 for students and seniors).

Rare Film Noir at the Brattle

join Ran on a Tuesday night

brattleAs you probably know, much of Ran’s music has been inspired by film noir. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Ran is spending his Tuesday evenings at the ongoing Rare Film Noir Series at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge.

The festival, which began in mid-July, is especially noteworthy because most of the films are not available on video or DVD. Most weeks there is a double feature. So far Ran’s favorites have been Roy Rowland’s Witness to Murder (which he called “one of the greatest bad films I’ve seen”) and Jacques Tourneur’s Nightfall (“Anne Bancroft is terrific”).

The festival wraps up August 22 with the The Window, in which a tenement kid’s eyewitness account of a sailor’s murder is believed by nobody but the killers themselves. Go to the 5:30 showing and you’ll no doubt run into Ran.

NEC Orientation Concert

free performance September 5

Ran will be among those performing at New England Conservatory’s annual Contemporary Improvisation Orientation Concert at Brown Hall on Tuesday, September 5. Other performers will include NEC faculty members Ken Schaphorst, Hankus Netsky, Allan Chase, Peter Row, and Dominique Eade.

Ran is planning to play his new composition, Paris. The 7:30 p.m. show is free and open to the public. Brown Hall is located at 30 Gainsborough Street.

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

Ran Blake