January, 2012

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

January 2012


Welcome to the January issue of Ran’s monthly newsletter. See below left for details on this photo of Ran with vocalist Jeanne Lee and below right for some breaking news about one of the duo’s recordings.

Paris Portrait

Eugenio Elias, a trumpeter and former NEC student who founded Zinco Jazz Club in Mexico City, recently bought this photo at a shop in Paris. Taken in 1991, it shows Jeanne Lee and Ran sharing a laugh with Maurice Cullaz and Genevieve Danchin. Maurice, who died in 2000, was the president of the French Academy of Jazz, a journalist and the co-founder of Jazz Hot magazine. Genevieve is a longtime friend of Ran’s.

Ran on YouTube, Pt. 1

Mahler concert

screenRan and several other NEC faculty discuss their participation in last December’s concert in honor of Gustav Mahler in a six-minute video recently posted to YouTube. View it by clicking on the photo.

Lindalee Lawrence put together the video for a website called eyeJAZZ.


Ran on YouTube, Pt. 2

Justin Bieber?!

bieberA few months ago, a short video of what appears to be Justin Bieber singing along to Ran playing “Happy Birthday” appeared on YouTube. As the Boston Globe reported here, it turns out the video was created by Alex Heitlinger, one of Ran’s former students. He spliced together an online clip of the teen idol with an MP3 he had of Ran. To hear the unlikely pairing, click on the photo.

Rerelease of a Classic

with bonus live tracks

newest Ran’s groundbreaking 1962 album with vocalist Jeanne Lee, The Newest Sound Around, was rereleased January 31st after being out of print for several years.

For now, we don’t know much more about it than what’s listed on several websites. The big news is that the rerelease includes six bonus live cuts, as well as a 12-page booklet. According to the World Records website, the live songs are “Sermonette,” “Round About,” “Where Will You Be?” “The Outcast,” “One Mint Julep,” and “Lonely Woman.”

Amazon and CD Universe also are selling the rerelease. You can read AllMusic’s review of an earlier version here.

The various listings have the releasing label as Solar, As Is, and AIS, so it’s unclear who is behind the rerelease. We hope to have more details about it once we pick up a copy.

Upbeat Review in Downbeat

praise for Whirlpool

whirlpoolThe December issue of Downbeat magazine features a favorable review of Whirlpool, Ran’s recent duet CD with vocalist Dominique Eade, by critic Michael Jackson. Excerpts from the review (not available online) follow:

“Blake never makes glib commentary; he offers a subtle harmonic roadmap where necessary, but his deeper mood illustrations are far more intriguing, here whipping up the dynamics to abet the pathetic fallacy-linking human feelings with natural forces.

“Though the intellectual interplay will interest music analysts, there are lovely pure moments: On ‘Where Are You?’ Eade is Wendy waiting for Peter Pan.

“Remarkably, during Blake’s harmonic gutting of ‘Devil Moon’ and his Alice-in-Wonderland colorations on ‘Falling,’ he remains supportive, and Eade’s ability to match his creativity without attempting to slipstream — instead making bold long-tone decisions — is the genius of this remarkable pairing.”

Ran will perform a tribute to Abbey Lincoln on April 30 in Kalamazoo, Michigan — her hometown — as part of the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival. Read more about the festival here.

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.

Thanks for reading. We’ll see you at the end of February.

Vol. 8, No. 1

You can read back issues here.