May, 2011

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

May 2011


Welcome to the May issue of Ran’s newsletter.

Photo: Ran with Abbey Lincoln in March 2006 at Scullers. On May 15, Ran performed a memorial concert in honor of Abbey at Cobi’s Place in New York City. See story below for more.

Photo credit: Eric Peters

Abbey Lincoln Tribute

“Nothing But the Truth”

ranwithcobiRan’s May 15 tribute concert in honor of Abbey Lincoln at Cobi’s Place in New York City went very well. The show, titled “Nothing But the Truth,” was sold out and the audience enjoyed a heartfelt performance.

Club owner Cobi Narita commented via e-mail:

“I saw people wiping tears away as Ran played Abbey’s songs with incredible tenderness, then softly laugh with delight as he played a mischievous interpretation of something else, then sit in absolute silence at the beauty and majesty of yet another song. When he played ‘Throw It Away,’ you could hear Abbey singing it. I wept. It was a mind-blowing performance.

“I have rarely sat with such an attentive and totally absorbed audience! It’s the same at every concert of Ran’s that I have attended.”

Photo: Ran and Cobi during a between sets talk.

Photo credit: David “Knife” Fabris

Feature in Hartford Advocate

“The Third Man”

Jazz and classical critic Michael Hamad wrote a feature on Ran in the May 17 Hartford Advocate. The article, titled “The Third Man,” focused on the new album but also highlighted Ran’s career, his influences, and his impact on other musicians. An excerpt follows:

“There are any number of interesting things to talk about in pianist Ran Blake’s music, but there’s one passage in particular that caught my ear while I was listening to his new CD, Grey December: Live in Rome

“About 58 seconds into ‘Impressions: Abbey Lincoln,’ an 11-minute-plus track that closes out the album, Blake plays a melody with his right hand in a register so high you can barely make out the notes. He accompanies this with a descending chromatic line in his left hand in the same octave, which almost completely obscures the melody. It’s like listening to two people whisper to you in two different languages, one you recognize, the other foreign.

“As a listener, you have to work to hear the melody; you have to seek out as much as it finds you.”

Read the full article here.

Grey December Now Available

live album recorded in Rome

greydecemberRan’s new album, Grey December – Live in Rome, is now available from Tompkins Square Records, Amazon, iTunes, and other retailers. The album of solo piano was recorded Dec. 16 at the Casa Del Jazz in Rome.

One of Ran’s earlier albums was recorded in a movie theater and another in a train station, but this is Ran’s first live concert recording in front of an audience in a traditional venue.

The performance includes several original compositions that appear on record for the first time, as well as several standards.

You can download one track, “Cry Wolf,” free at the All About Jazz website (requires registration).

Fun in the Sun

with a babbling baby

ransashasteve Ran hanging out with me (Steve Mardon) and Sasha Belle over Memorial Day weekend in the park across the street from Ran’s apartment. In this video, Ran gives Sasha tips on how to put things on your head.

Odds and Ends

Ran’s book, The Primacy of the Ear, is available on 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.

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




Like last month, this issue is a bit late to general life hecticness. We’ll see you at the end of the month.

Vol. 7, No. 5

You can read back issues here.