April, 2009

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

April 2009



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

Summer Course Scheduled

on Ella and Louis

Ran is teaching a three-week summer course at the New England Conservatory on the music of jazz giants Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald (see poster above). Composer/conductor and former NEC President Gunther Schuller will be the course’s keynote speaker.

The course runs from July 12 through August 2 and will include a free evening open to the public at NEC on July 31 with performances and interviews.

Please visit NEC’s page on the course for more detailed info. You can also contact NEC Summer School Director Margaret Ulmer at (617) 585-1130 or sumsch@newenglandconservatory.edu or get in touch with Ran at ran@ranblake.com.

Music Inn Screens Twice

historic documentary

innMusic Inn, a documentary on The Lenox School of Jazz, where Ran studied and performed at the start of his career, screens twice in Massachusetts in late April.

The first showing is Monday, April 27 at 5 p.m. at Amherst College. The free screening is at Pruyne Lecture Hall in the Fayerweather Building as part of the Faultlines Series.

The second screening is Tuesday, April 28 at 6 p.m. at the Boston Public Library.The free screening is part of Jazz Week events at the library. The library is located in Copley Square at 700 Boylston St, and the film screens in BPL’s Rabb Lecture Hall.

At both screenings co-producer George Schuller will introduce the film and lead a panel afterward. Ran (who also appears in the film) is on the panel at the screening at the Boston Public Library, along with Gunther Schuller, Ted Casher, and Joe Hunt.

The Lenox School of Jazz operated at the Music Inn in Lenox during summers from 1957 to 1960. Faculty and guests included Gunther Schuller, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Dorham, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Willis Laurence James and Jimmy Giuffre. Ran attended all four years and looks back on it as one of the highlights of his life.

You can watch the trailer here.

Morning Edition Features Ran

nprNPR’s Morning Edition aired an in-depth profile of Ran on April 13. Titled “Pianist Ran Blake Takes His Cues From Film Noir,” the 7-minute piece featured interviews with Ran, New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff, and several students, as well as samples from Ran’s new Driftwoods album.

Andrea Shea, a reporter for NPR-affiliate WBUR in Boston, put together the segment, which does an outstanding job highlighting Ran’s life and creative process, as well as capturing his personality. If you missed it, you can stream or download it here and read the text here.

Ordering Driftwoods

DriftwoodsIf you haven’t ordered your copy of Driftwoods yet, you can do so through ranblake.com, Amazon, Tompkins Square, and other retailers. You can also download it from iTunes. The album has received strong reviews from the The New York Times, The Boston Globe and many other sources. Read the February and March issues of Ran’s newsletter to see some of these reviews.

Rare Recording Surfaces

duets with Jeanne Lee

freestandards A recording of Ran and vocalist Jeanne Lee from 1966 titled Free Standards that includes pop and jazz standards such as the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s” Night and Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train,” as well as several original compositions, has surfaced on a jazz blog.

Details on the recording are sketchy. Apparently it was made in 1966 in Stockholm at a friend of Ran’s house. Ran remembers the session but isn’t sure whether an album was officially released. The title doesn’t show up on Amazon or other official outlets, so it’s possible the album circulates a bootleg.

Fans of Ran and Jeanne’s groundbreaking 1962 album, The Newest Sound Around (currently out of print) will no doubt find the recording of interest. If you’re curious and internet savvy, for the moment you can check out MP3s of the recordings here.

If any readers know further details about this album or own a copy, please e-mail Ran.

Thanks for reading. As always, you can reach Ran directly at ran@ranblake.com, and you can read back issues here.

We’ll see you in May.
Vol. 5, No.4