September, 2012

September 2012


Welcome to the September issue of Ran’s monthly newsletter. This issue includes Ran’s thoughts on his July trip to Europe, during which he saw a number of old friends he hadn’t seen since the 1960s. In that spirit, here’s a photo of Ran from that era.

Ran’s Reflections

ransoloA highlight of my trip to France and Belgium this summer was meeting friends, many who I have not seen for more than 30 years.

Just after my performance in Toucy at the Ricky Ford Festival, a very attractive woman came up to me with a package. I thought that I recognized her, but often when having finished a performance I’m in a dream world. This was Eila Conte. I had met Eila in the mid-Sixties when she was living in Paris with her husband, Gerard. Gerard loved music of New Orleans and felt that Benny Goodman was outrageously modern. Eila was a translator from Helsinki and was so delightful.

Another friend was Karin Lecacheux. Karin took a photograph of me, which was displayed on the back of my third LP The Blue Potato. She was originally from Berlin and married a Bard College classmate of mine named Henri de Seynes. This family used to live in Montparnasse. I had not seen Karin since 1967.

Meeting a third friend was even more remarkable. I’m speaking of Christian Abry. We met on the Riviera where I was performing with Jeanne Lee. We had left our luggage on the wrong train and Christian says he saw me crawl under a train to retrieve it. This was either 1963 or 64. He was around 18 and I was 10 years older. I had written him a letter to thank him for his kindness, which had been put in a box at his late mother’s house and never read for more than 40 years. He found the letter sometime this past winter and wrote me. We had a mutual acquaintance, a Dr. Jouvet, who ran a sleep clinic in Lyons. To this day I can see so many young cats who were unable to sleep after a week of testing …

In Bruxelles, Aaron and I were hosted by Rose Kervyn de Meerendre. Rose is the daughter of the Countess Florence de Lannoy. Florence and her husband Leopold have been very important friends of mine since 1963 and during soirees that they hosted, Jeanne and I met many entrepreneurs, which helped establish our careers.

Each evening at the Lannoy house had a unique perspective — a specific evening was a sort of a musical vernissage, which also might feature poetry and discussions on painting. In the Seventies, Florence opened a six-floor establishment called Jacques le Fataliste. The name of this club was inspired by Denis Diderot.

Upcoming Events

Quebec and Boston

blackbag October 17 — Ran performs a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s “I Confess” at the Quebec City Jazz Festival. Read about the festival and buy tickets here.

October 27 — Ran will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New England Conservatory’s Alumni Association as part of the Contemporary Improvisation Department’s 40th anniversary. The event, titled “Ran Blake: A Life in Music,” is being curated by Aaron Hartley and will feature musical and video tributes and a live interview conducted by Hankus Netsky. It begins at 10 a.m. at NEC’s Williams Hall. Read more about 40th anniversary events here.

October 29 — For this year’s Halloween concert, Ran and co-producer Aaron Hartley present “Brando Noir,” 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.

Movie Night

withchristianRan and Christian Abry at a theater in Toucy, France.

Photo by Aaron Hartley

Live CD

available from

gdGrey December: Live in Rome, Ran’s 2011 release on Tompkins Square Records, is now available directly from The album of solo piano was recorded December 16, 2010 at Casa Del Jazz. Click on the album cover to visit the store at

Et Cetera

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.