November, 2012

November 2012


Welcome to the November issue of Ran’s monthly newsletter. This month marks the release of Aurora, a new live duet album with vocalist Sara Serpa on the Portugese Clean Feeds label. Read more below.

Ran’s Reflections

a class at Berklee

I’m enjoying sitting in on a class at Berklee now. I feel it is very important to my growth to study with other teachers.

At New England Conservatory, I’ve enjoyed so many classes with Allan Chase, John Heiss, Ken Schaphorst, and particularly with Hankus Netsky. Ken did a great course on Thelonious Monk and John Heiss on Charles Ives. Allan focused on compositional elements in jazz and Hankus taught about Jewish elements in jazz such as Hasidic, Hebrew theater, and the Holocaust.

Previously at Berklee I’ve studied with the late Herb Pomeroy, a Mingus course with Ken Pullig, and a Shostakovich course with Yakov Gubanov. Of course, I’ve had a 40-year study with Gunther Schuller.

Now I’m studying with Sheldon Mirowitz on the music of Bernard Herrmann. Much of his music I have already internalized with my own story board techniques but I haven’t really paid attention to details of orchestration nor have I really formulated my own idea on core note motives. I use the latter intuitively in much of my music but feel I have a lot to learn about how to use this in my music.

I’m fascinated by the first scene in “Citizen Kane,” the old fashioned yet original music of “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” and now we’re working on “Vertigo” and “Taxi Driver.” I am working with one of the most skillful educators that I’ve studied with.

Japanese Translation


If you read Japanese and would like to translate this review of Aurora into English, please email Ran at

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

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

New Live Release

Aurora with Sara Serpa

duoRan and Sara’s new album, Aurora, was recorded during a concert last May at Lisbon’s Auditório da Culturgest and at a private session at the theater the day before.

The album is already receiving strong reviews, with Thomas Cunniffe commenting on Jazz History Online that Ran and Sara “align their vivid musical imaginations to transform classic songs into intense dramatic experiences” and Alan Young observing in Lucid Culture that “this is music for eternity, a bleak yet sometimes unexpectedly amusing antidote to the shadows encroaching around us.”

The album includes 12 songs: “Saturday,” “When Autumn Sings,” “Dr. Mabuse,” “Cansaço,” “Moonride,” “Strange Fruit,” “Mahler Noir,” “The Band Played On,” “Love Lament,” “Wende,” “Fine and Dandy,” and “Last Night When We Were Young.”

This is the duo’s second release, following Camera Obscura in 2010.

You can read more about the album and order the CD on the label’s website, and sample the songs and download MP3s from Amazon. You can also view a promotional video about the collaboration on YouTube.

New Concert Date

January 29

bag “Brando Noir,” the Halloween concert at NEC postponed in October due to Hurricane Sandy, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, January 29.

The evening, co-produced by Ran Aaron Hartley, is a tribute to Marlon Brando. Students and faculty of NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation department perform along with clips from Brando’s films, creating a real-time original score as they respond to the drama through improvisations, recompositions, and reinterpretations of the original orchestrations.

The 8 p.m. show, at Jordan Hall, is free. Read more about it here.

Thanks for reading. We’ll see you in December.

Vol. 8, No. 11

You can read back issues here.