October, 2011

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

October 2011


Welcome to the October issue of Ran’s monthly newsletter, which celebrates the release of Whirlpool, Ran’s new duet album with vocalist Dominique Eade.

Shadow of Doubt at NEC

annual Halloween concert

shadowRan and coproducer Aaron Hartley celebrate Halloween this year by staging a musical and cinematic tribute in honor of Alfred Hitchcock and Claude Chabrol at the New England Conservatory.

This year’s concert focuses on two films: Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943) and Chabrol’s Le Boucher (1970). The films have a lot in common: Both take place in suffocating small-town settings include the viewpoint of a child whose world is clouded by the “shadow of a doubt” when they realize an admired adult may be a murderer.

Students and faculty of NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation department — along with guests — perform in response to the plots, moods, scenes, spirit, and music of these two films as clips appear onscreen.

The October 31 concert starts at 8 p.m. in Jordan Hall, and it’s free. Read more about it on NEC’s website. Also, the Boston Globe previews the event here (subscription required).

Album Liner Notes

contributed by Bob Blumenthal

Blumenthal Jazz critic Bob Blumenthal wrote the liner notes to Whirlpool. Below is the introduction; you can read the full liner notes here.

“Consider this music a missive from the realm of good things long overdue. It is the product of an inspired pairing of artists that, while nurtured for decades, has for the most part managed to escape documentation; and it marks some of the most compelling music in two already illustrious careers.

“In the case of Ran Blake, that career has spanned a half century and yielded many gifts, including a solo piano language that blends audacious harmonic and rhythmic ideas with gospel-like fervor; a redefinition of ‘Third Stream’ that has effectively globalized his mentor Gunther Schuller’s original concept of jazz/classical merger to encompass all cultural sources; and a sonic translation of the expressionistic gestures and subconscious motivations of classic film noir.”

CD Ordering Info

cdBaby or ranblake.com

You can order a copy of Whirlpool from ranblake.com or cdBaby. The cdBaby page also allows you to sample all the songs.

Whirlpool Released

Duo Disc with Dominique Eade

whirlpoolRan’s long-awaited duet album with vocalist Dominique Eade, Whirlpool, is now available.

Dominique is on the faculty with Ran at the New England Conservatory, and the two have often performed together over the years. The album, on the Jazz Project label, features the following 13 songs, which were recorded at sessions in 2004 and 2008:

-My Foolish Heart (Young, Washington)
-Dearly Beloved (Kern, Mercer)
-The Wind (Freeman, Gladstone)
-Go Gently to the Water (Eade)
-Old Devil Moon (Lane, Harburg)
-Pinky (Newman)
-Falling (Overall)
-Where Are You (Adamson, McHugh)
-Out of this World (Arlen, Mercer)
-The Pawnbroker (Jones, Lawrence)
-Dearly Beloved, version 2 (Kern, Mercer)
-The Thrill is Gone (Henderson, Brown)
-After the Ball (Harris)


First Reviews

“awe-inspiring” harmony

Whirlpool is already receiving favorable reviews. Two excerpts follow:

Lloyd Sachs, jazzespress blog: “Whirlpool features familiar tunes … as well as insider jazz numbers … But Blake and Eade treat them like classical art songs as much as popular standards. With her clear and radiant but forcefully grounded voice, Eade investigates the songs like a diamond cutter, taking time to highlight their unique harmonic facets while never losing sight of their emotional meaning. Blake’s spare, elegant backing illuminates her in a wintry light, with occasional dissonant shivers.” Listen to the full review here, or read the text here.

Robert Carraher, Dirty Lowdown website: “Together it becomes apparent that these two are as in tuned with each other as they are with the music. The harmony between Eade’s voice and Blake deft piano work is awe-inspiring, but it is the way they nail the melody, never gliding through a note and never leaving out a nuance to bring a song alive. Eade is not an actress, delivering a tune as if it was drama, but her voice strives to be an instrument in that each word is a musical note or phrase, and she brings that to the song in such a satisfying way.” Full review.

Ran’s previous album, Grey December – Live in Rome, is 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.

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

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

We’ll see you in November.

Vol. 7, No. 10

You can read back issues here.