September, 2007

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

September 2007

At Piano

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

Spiral Staircases

Halloween showcase at NEC

spiralRan’s fall student performance focuses on one of his favorite films, the psychological murder mystery Spiral Staircase. Fittingly, the show falls on Halloween.

The evening (formally titled “Spiral Staircases”) will include scenes from the film and musical and theatrical performances by New England Conservatory students and others. Participants will include Chris Veilleux, Serhan Erkol, Elden Kelly, Nick Grondin, Alla Cohen, Anthony Coleman, Ellen Pfeiffer, Prudence Steiner, Dorothy Clark and many others. Aaron Hartley and Josh Drake are co-producers.

Directed by Robert Siodmak, the 1946 film tells the story of a mute servant girl threatened by a murderer who has a penchant for killing the handicapped. The girl, who hasn’t been able to speak since childhood, must somehow call for help before becoming the killer’s next victim. Dorothy McGuire, Ethel Barrymore, Elsa Lanchester and George Brent co-star.

The October 31 show is at 8 p.m. at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall. It’s free.


Ran Appears in Reggae Documentary

see it in October at Coolidge Corner

taittA new documentary about a reggae pioneer includes several performances by Ran. The film premieres October 6 at 8:30 p.m. at Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline.

Lynn Taitt: Rocksteady tells the story of Taitt, a Trinidadian born guitarist who came to Jamaica in 1962 and invented the rock steady rhythm (the backbone of reggae). He backed Toots & The Maytals, the Wailers, Desmond Dekker, and countless other artists who came to Kingston to make records.

In 2006, Generoso Fierro (a DJ at the MIT radio station WMBR who directed the film) and Eli Keszler (a drummer and NEC student) organized a recording session with Taitt at the station. Eli invited Ran to participate.

Ran appears in about 15 minutes of the film, playing on a rock steady version of his song “Vanguard” and several other songs by Keszler and trombonist Andrew Fenlon.

The film won two awards at the 2007 Hollywood Documentary and Fiction Film Festival (honorable mention and best editing) and is also an official selection of the 2007 New England Film and Video Festival. You can read more about it here and watch the trailer here.

Ran’s Fall Tour Dates

France and Italy in November and December

Ran and guitarist David “Knife” Fabris head to Europe in November for a series of performances in France and Italy.

November 22 — Ran performs solo at the Jazzdor Festival in Strasbourg.

November 29 — Duo performance with Knife at Theatre du Perigueux in Perigueux.

December 9 — Duo performance with Knife in the afternoon at Le Petit Faucheux in Tours. Ran will also be teaching a master class in the week leading up to this show.

December 13 — Ran performs at the Sunset Sunside Club in Paris. Ran will teach a master class at the Conservatoire National Sup?rieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris in the days leading up to this show, and students will participate in this night’s performance.

December 15 — Duo performance with Knife at Casa Jazz in Rome.

3rd Stream Recompositions Reissued

’77 album of solo standards

third Universal in July released Third Stream Recompositions, Ran’s 1977 album of solo piano originally issued on Owl. The album, which until now was only available on LP, includes Ran’s interpretations of standards by Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and Fats Waller, plus Stevie Wonder’s “You Got It Bad Girl.”

The CD is available from Amazon in the U.S. and Europe. The release follows Universal’s recent CD issues of Wende and You Stepped Out of a Dream.
* * *
In other CD news, thanks to Josh Rosenthal at Tompkins Square Records, we’re able to offer All That Is Tied, Ran’s most recent album at the bargain price of $10 on

Funky Portrait

illustrator captures Ran

drawingWe recently learned that Ran is featured in Impressions: Jazz Masters in Black and White, a 2003 book of 57 portraits by British illustrator Alistair Graham. Asked what inspired him to draw Ran, the artist responded:

“There are a few moments in the course of a listening lifetime that are enshrined in the memory, and while most are predictable milestones — the first record you buy, or one that carries a connection to a special person, period or place — some just appear out of nowhere.

“Such a one for me is the moment I first heard Ran’s “Old Man River” on Suffield Gothic. It sounded to me as if it were assembled from opposites that nonetheless sat serenely alongside each other, holding hands. It was eccentric but with its own logic. It was a uniquely individual performance that refused to betray the original. Its harmonies fell like shards of glass, and landed in a perfect prism. It was slyly ironic but passionately felt, and sounded like nothing I’d heard before, but was entirely familiar. It revealed a new way of thinking about old things. It was, and remains, precious.”

You can view a higher resolution version of this portrait, see more of Alistair Graham’s work and order the book or a print from his website. Ran is included in the “Cross Currents” section.

We’ll see you in October.

Vol. 3, No.9