September, 2010

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

September 2010



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

75th Birthday Celebration

a momentous evening

By all accounts, Ran’s 75th birthday celebration September 20 at NEC was a joyous occasion, with dozens of heartfelt performances and hundreds in attendance.

You can download the program here. This issue features several photos from the evening. Above, Ran performs (photo by Andy Hulbert).

In advance of the event, the Boston Globe published an excellent Q&A (titled “Ran Blake, 75, reflects on life played by ear”) in which John Medeski, keyboardist with Medeski, Martin & Wood and a former student, interviews Ran. Read it here.


candlesRan blows out the candles at the post-show reception. (Photo by John Campopiano.)

Reviews Roll In

vocal duet CDs

Ran’s two new CDs of vocal-piano duets — Out of the Shadows with Christine Correa and Camera Obscura with Sara Serpa — continue to gain critical attention and strong reviews.

–Both albums were mentioned favorably (and Ran was quoted) in an August 27 article by Nate Chinen in the New York Times on Abbey Lincoln’s legacy.

–Richard Kamins reviews both albums on the Step Tempest blog.

–In a review of Camera Obscura in LA Jazz Scene (not available on the web) Scott Yanow says: “Rather than feeding the vocalists chords and melody lines, Blake challenges the singer with unusual accents, dissonant phrases, and ideas related to the song’s theme but rarely its chords. The late Jeanne Lee was able to handle the challenge, and so is Sara Serpa … While Blake alternates between being sympathetic and coming up with explosive ideas, Serpa is unperturbed, bringing beauty to the melodies…”


natalieRan with Mae Arnette. (Photo by Dave Ostman)

Chabrol Noir

concert at NEC November 10

chabrolRan and coproducer Aaron Hartley are staging a musical and cinematic tribute in honor of Claude Chabrol at the New England Conservatory on November 10.

Chabrol has long been one of Ran’s favorite directors, and this event has been planned for months. However, the show gained added poignancy with Chabrol’s death at age 80 on September 12 in Paris.

Students and faculty of NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation department — along with guests Dorothy Clark and Prudence Steiner, singer Claire Dickson, narrator Charles Peltz, Cuddle Magic, the Ken Schaphorst Big Band, and NEC ensemble-in-residence the Borromeo String Quartet — will perform in response to the plots, moods, and music of Chabrol’s rich body of film. The show will feature clips from two of Chabrol’s most suspenseful titles, This Man Must Die and Rupture, and musicians performing some of composer Pierre Jansen’s original scoring for these films. Other performances will respond to the spirit of Chabrol’s work without any specific reference point.

The concert starts at 8 p.m. in Jordan Hall, and it’s free.

Read more about the tribute on NEC’s website. Here is the New York Timesobituary.


cameraobscuraRan greets a friend, Ludwig, at the reception. (Photo by Dave Ostman)

European Tour Taking Shape

December in Lithuania, Italy

Some late-breaking news: Ran is planning several European shows in this winter with guitarist David “Knife” Fabris. Dates and sites still need to be confirmed, but it’s looking like they’ll be in Vilnius, Lithuania in early December and then Rome, Italy, in the middle of December.

We’ll have more details in next month’s issue.

Marty Yaseen Live

in NYC

Ran’s friend Marty Yaseen, a vocalist, performs October 2 at 8 p.m. with John Stein at the 5C Cultural Center in New York City. The 5C is located at 5th St. and Avenue C.

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

To learn more about studying at NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation Department, visit the department’s website or contact Department Chairperson Hankus Netsky.

We’ll see you in October.

Vol. 6, No. 9