Febuary, 2011

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

February 2011


Welcome to the February issue of Ran’s monthly newsletter. This photo, featuring a quote by Oscar Wilde, was taken by David “Knife” Fabris at the Shakespeare Hotel in Vilnius during Ran’s European tour last December.

New Reviews

3 duet albums

Three of Ran’s duet albums — Camera Obscura with Sara Serpa, Out of the Shadows with Christine Correa and Indian Winter with Knife — received favorable reviews in recent weeks:

Bob Weinberg reviewed Camera Obscura along with several other vocal albums in the winter issue of Jazziz magazine (not available online without a subscription): “(Blake and Serpa) engage in some high-spirited exchanges — dig their joyous push-and-pull on a brief read of the Thelonious Monk smiler ‘Nutty’ — but they also plumb the psychological depths of their selections. Blake remains the most challenging and responsive of duo partners, as he pushes Serpa to truly examine the interpretative possibilities of each tune.”

Andrew Hamlin reviewed Out of the Shadows in the San Diego Reader: “(Correa’s) knack for hovering right outside a lyric, desire pressed to the emotions within, reminds me of no one else I know and gets under the skin of my ears uniquely. … Blake’s manifestly dark pianism grounds her but also undercuts, counter-comments, virtually chuckles at the idea of escaping shadows at all. That combination confounds a little, hurts a little more, and ultimately mesmerizes.” Read the full review.

A blog called United Mutations by a Frank Zappa fan reviewed Indian Winter because it includes a Zappa tune: “Fabris play a superb “Marqueson’s Chicken.” And the exciting part is that the entire album is worth your attention … An experimental approach, mixed with nice jazz voicings. I love it.” Here’s the full post.

At the Piano

smilePhoto by Jesus Manuel Alvarez Fontaneda.

Wanted: French Chef

for home cooking

chabrolRan is looking for someone interested in cooking several recipes from Chabrol Se Met a Table, a book by Laurent Bourdon on the food inspired by the great director’s films, for Ran and a few friends. Ran will cover the expenses for the ingredients and provide a stipend or music lessons in exchange for this service. For more details, contact Ran at ran@ranblake.com.

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

Ran + Cuddle Magic

March 18 at Lily Pad

cuddlemagicRan will perform with the band Cuddle Magic on Friday, March 18 at the Lily Pad in Cambridge.

Cuddle Magic is a collective of 10 musicians who live in Brooklyn and Philadelphia, all of whom studied at the New England Conservatory. The instrumentation includes guitars, strings, percussion, vibraphone, clarinet, keyboards and more, and their sound has elements of folk and jazz. You can check out several of their songs on their myspace page.

Ran will open the show at 8 p.m. with a solo set and then perform 3 or 4 songs with Cuddle Magic. The band will then play a set without Ran. The Lily Pad is at 1353 Cambridge St., and the cover charge $15 ($12 for students).

Primacy of the Ear

reader reviews

primacyRan new book, The Primacy of the Ear, has been selling well on lulu.com.

The book outlines Ran’s philosophy on development of the ear and explains how musical memory is the key to becoming a more potent musician and shaping a personal musical style.

Several readers have posted reviews on lulu. Here are a few excerpts:

From marcehannaford: “A fantastic book for anyone who wants a clear methodology for developing their aural skills and a personal sound. This is clearly written, without heavy jargon, with plenty of suggested examples and further reading that does not discriminate against any genre. As a university lecturer I plan to incorporate many of the ideas into my course.”

From Jonathan Dimond: “One of the most remarkable accomplishments of this book is the manner in which Blake and (co-author) Jason Rogers have been able to encapsulate the essence of such an experiential method in printed word. I anticipate using this book for reference, teaching and practice well into in the future. This book was long-awaited by me and many others who knew it was in the pipeline, and was worth the wait!”

From gahughes: “I read through this book in one evening — but its content, utterly relevant to the modern day improviser/composer, can inform and inspire the music making of anyone who reads it for a very long time after… It’s one of the most clearly thought out aural texts for any music student, delivered plainly and intelligently … As a teacher and player I recommend this book to musicians who are really serious about developing their ear, but also anyone who has an interest in musical sound in contemporary culture.”

The book costs $30, plus $4 shipping in the U.S. You can order a copy here.

We’ll see you in March.

Vol. 7, No. 2

You can read back issues here.