September, 2009

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

September 2009



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


Remembering Chris Connor

reknowned vocalist

connor Chris Connor, a jazz singer whose smoky voice who helped define the “cool jazz” style in the 1950s, died August 29 at 81. Ran was a huge admirer of Connor, as well as a friend, and she sang “Wende” on Ran’s 1978 album Rapport.

Connor first gained fame for her recording of “All About Ronnie” with the Stan Kenton Orchestra before going solo in 1953 and having success with songs such as “Trust in Me” and “About the Blues.” She continued recording and performing until her retirement about five years ago.

You can read the New York Times obituary here, and several others here. In addition, here is a collection of quotes about Connor that Ran gathered for his 2007 summer course on her music.


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.


Photo Credit

Justin Freed exhibit

coolidgecorner The photo on top of this issue and the one at right show Ran outside Coolidge Corner Theatre in the late 1980s. The photos, by Justin Freed, are included in an exhibit of Justin’s photos, “I Found it at the Coolidge,” that runs until September 28 at Brookline Library.

Jazz Baroness Documentary

at Coolidge Corner

nicaJazz Baroness,” a documentary on Nica de Koenigswarter, will screen at Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline on Wednesday, November 11. Ran contributed an introduction to a program (which will be available at the screening) about the first time he met Nica and several other encounters in subsequent years.

Nica was member of a prominent British family, the Rothschilds, who in the 1950s became a friend and patron of many jazz musicians in New York City (including Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker), often paying musicians’ rent, redeeming their instruments from pawn shops, buying their groceries, and driving them to gigs. After Monk stopped performing publicly, he retired to Nica’s house in New Jersey until his death in 1982.

The 75-minute documentary was made by Nica’s great-niece, Hannah Rothschild.

Ran with John Harbison

ranandharbison Ran with the composer John Harbison last May at the MIT Wind Ensemble’s 70th birthday salute to Harbison. Ran played “Round Midnight.”

George Russell Tribute

October 2

Ran will be among the performers at an NEC tribute to George Russell on Friday, October 2 at 8 p.m. at Jordan Hall. Russell, an educator, composer and musician, died in July at 86. Other performers will include George Garzone, Hiro Honshuku, Joe Hunt, Rick McLaughlin, Tiger Okoshi, Mark Rossi, Ben Schwendener and the NEC Jazz Orchestra (conducted by Pat Hollenbeck and Ken Schaphorst). The event is free.

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

We’ll see you in October.

Vol. 5, No. 9