August, 2009

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

August 2009



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


I Found It at the Coolidge

Ran helps honor Justin Freed

coolidgeRan will perform two songs at a reception Thursday, September 10 at Brookline Public Library in honor of an exhibition of photos and memorabilia from the collection of Justin Freed, the Coolidge Corner Theater’s owner and programmer from 1977 to 1989.

The exhibition, titled “I Found It At the Coolidge,” tells the story of Freedʼs tenure at the Coolidge, during which the theater first became a haven for international art films, retrospectives, documentaries and independent films. It includes photos of actors, directors and musicians from the era, including Ran, Dennis Hopper, Norman Mailer, Al Green, John Sayles, and many others.

The exhibition, which is already open, runs until September 28. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. It will open on weekends starting September 8 (from 10 to 5 on Saturdays and 1 to 5 on Sundays).

The September 10 reception starts at 6 p.m. It’s free, as is the exhibition.

NEC Jazz’ 40th Anniversay

October show in Boston

This year marks the 40th year of the New England Conservatory’s Jazz Studies Program, and Ran will be appearing at an event in Boston on Friday, October 23 to celebrate the anniversary.

There will be a series of events in Boston at venues including the Western Front, Regattabar, Scullers Jazz Club and NEC’s Jordan Hall during the week of October 18. The weekend will be highlighted by an All-Star Jam with the NEC Jazz Orchestra on October 23 in Jordan Hall. Confirmed artists for that program include Ran, Bob Brookmeyer, Danilo Perez, Roger Kellaway, Carl Atkins, Fred Hersch, Don Byron, and Rachael Price.


A Fine Reception

ranandknifeRan with longtime friend and guitarist David “Knife” Fabris at the latter’s wedding to Stacie in June. The photo at the top of this issue is also from the wedding.

Remembering George Russell

a jazz legend

georgeGeorge Russell, a major figure in jazz history and a friend and colleague of Ran’s at the New England Conservatory, died July 27th at 86.

Russell, a composer, educator and musician, was best known for The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization for Improvisation, a book that explained modal jazz. He also recorded more than 20 albums, including The Jazz Workshop, New York, N.Y., Ezz-Thetics and It’s About Time.

Shortly after George died, Ran wrote a brief remembrance. An excerpt follows:

“As important as his theoretical studies are, I consider George’s most important contribution in music as that of a composer. There are sounds that he gets from the orchestra and small ensemble that no one else achieves. His music is as identifiable as that of Messiaen and Strayhorn. When hearing him six nights in a row at Birdland during the ’60s and then 25 years later at Scullers, one could hear these orchestral sounds when he played keyboard. George never considered himself a virtuoso on the instrument but I believe he did have a thoroughly formulated improvisational style, which came through on his written compositions as well.”

You can download the whole tribute here and read obituaries in The New York Times, the Boston Globe, and on the NEC website.

Recording with Christine Correa

back in the studio

ranchristineRan worked on an album of duets with vocalist Christine Correa in August at Rear Window Studio in Coolidge Corner.

The album is likely to include a number of songs from films, including “Hi Lilly Hi Lo” from Lili and the theme from The Bad and Beautiful, as well as several of Ran’s compositions (some old and some new).

Christine, a native of Bombay, India who lives in Brooklyn, is the director of the Maine Jazz Camp, a jazz camp for high school and junior school students. Ran and Christine also collaborated on Round About, a 1994 CD on the Music and Arts label.

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

We’ll see you in September.

Vol. 5, No. 8