Streaming, 2018

Ran Blake / Christine Correa: Streaming

Pianist Ran Blake has been known for his duo work with vocalists dating back to his 1962 collaboration with Jeanne Lee, The Newest Sound Around (RCA Victor). In recent years, he has been working with three individualistic singers, Sara Serpa, Dominique Eade and Christine Correa. The year 2017 brought a session of folk songs and soundtrack music with Eade, the excellent Town And Country (Sunnyside Records). This time it’s Correa’s turn in a program of mostly jazz and pop standards.

Correa has a thick, aggressive singing voice reminiscent of Abbey Lincoln, and is often the commanding focal point on these duets, while Blake provides icy backgrounds. This really comes out on Ornette Coleman‘s “Lonely Woman,” which she starts with a chilling solo blues-tinged scream before tearing into the lyrics with a forceful Middle Eastern wail, as Blake strikes bell-like single notes and ominous chords. On “Out of this World,” “All About Ronnie” and “Bebopper,” she sings with more ease and melodic flow but maintains a sharp, angular phrasing that plays well off Blake’s fragments of swing and bop piano. She really struts her vocal prowess on a Sephardic folk song “Ah, El Novio No Quere Dinero” and a noirish, a cappella version of Blake’s “Wende.” But her most extravagant performance is on an eight- minute version of Ivan Lins‘ “Love Dance,” where she sounds alternately yearning, poetic and ghostly over Blake’s deliberate, moody playing.
Throughout the disc, Blake’s piano work is its usual mesmerizing mixture of dark chords, dreamlike fragments and tipsy saloon blues, creating backgrounds worthy of an Alfred Hitchcock score. In addition to his duets with Correa, he also performs three short solo variations on George Russell‘s “Stratusphunk,” one bluesy, one menacing, and one slow-crawling ballad that seems to have been crossed with Thelonious Monk‘s “Misterioso.”

Ran Blake is one of the most distinctive musicians in the jazz realm, with an uneasy minimalist style of piano playing that conjures thoughts of dark shadows and 3 AM nightmares. Match him with the searing voice of Christine Correa and the result is deep, disquieting music full of both seductive beauty and nebulous dread. This is an outstanding duo set.


Track Listing: Don’t Explain; Out Of This World; Lonely Woman; Stratusphunk I; Bebopper; All About Ronnie; Ah, El Novio No Quere Dinero; Stratusphunk II; Love Dance; Wende; Stratusphunk III; No More.

Personnel: Ran Blake: piano; Christine Correa: voice.

Title: Streaming | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Red Piano Records

 

Downbeat Streaming Review 2018.PNG

Downbeat Dec, 2018

Ran Blake/
Christine Correa
Streaming
RED PIANO 14599-4434
++++
Ran Blake and Christine Correa have

cultivated a unique musical relation-
ship through their frequent collab-
orations, first by acknowledging the

traditional lead/accompaniment
approach and then charting a path
that departs from precedent, sometimes radically.
This is clear from the opening cut of Streaming, a bracingly original
exploration of Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Explain.” Playing in a very flexible

rubato, they each perform freely, with Blake alluding to, rather than repli-
cating, the structure of the tune through clusters, dissonances and an occa-
sional consonant voicing. His “solo,” if that’s the right word, floats around

the composition in a way that honors it and keeps it in a clear, if abstract,
light. And Correa’s vocal, crisply articulated but bitingly emotional, defines
a space that’s parallel to Blake’s; when the piano drops out for a few bars, she
sails on, buoyed on a silence that nonetheless evokes the foundation Blake
already had laid for her.
The unique dynamic of this first track heralds all that follows. Te point
is that when combining knowledge of tradition with wide-open ears and
fearlessness, the road opens to exhilarating possibility.

—Bob Doerschuk

 

Ran Blake | Christine Correa: Streaming

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Ran Blake | Christine Correa: Streaming

The album Streaming seems to close the circle on what Ran Blake really means by the word used as the title. First of all it is closer to James Joyce’s “stream of consciousness” than what Gunter Schuller meant by the term “Third Stream”, which he has been (apocryphally) credited with using to describe the music of the Modern Jazz Quartet. In Mr Blake’s parlance “Third Stream” is also not only the name given to the department he has founded at the New England Conservatory, and the basis of his entire pedagogy, but it is also his entire sound-world: that organic flow of music that has its origin deep within the recesses of his artistic sensibility before it emerges into the world of our hearing – and listening. It is also (my view) that of all the vocalists he has worked with Christine Correa appears to understand best how to respond – in an almost visceral sense – to Mr Blake’s inner Streaming urges.

With quivering emotions that tug at the ends of phrases and lines, and with odd accents that seem to suggest that she has been inspired by Thelonious Monk’s world of cracked rhythms and harmonic concepts, Miss Correa brings an eerie reality to this music; with a stunning and infinitely darker rendition of “Don’t Explain” than anyone else you may have heard. She is a precarious teeter-totter of vulnerability and strength. In fact, with Mr Blake at the other harmonic end of proceedings we have, in this song, a striking alternative to one that Billie Holiday and Mal Waldron created. Miss Correa is no stranger to classic Jazz. She grew up on a healthy staple of the very best from her father, the incredible Mickey Correa, a bandleader from the days when Jazz was real in Bombay (in India). But nothing whatsoever can prepare you for the version of “Out of this World” that she and Mr Blake spin off. Nor is one prepared for the ghostly wonders of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” and the three variations on George Russell’s classic “Stratusphunk”, which even without Eric Dolphy (from Mr Russell’s original) are certainly benchmark interpretations of the work.

Streaming is also a fitting bookend to Mr Blake’s great recording Film Noir, a fascinating sonic foray into the film genre of the same name imprinted on Arista Novus in 1980 and later re-mastered and re-released by the inimitable Jonathan Horwich of International Phonograph on his label of the same name. Like that classic recording, Streaming comes from the same place and it leaves the same enormous impact on the senses. It’s full of glinting lights (“Bebopper”), mysterious depths (“Ah El Novio No Quere Dinero”), expectations, frustrations (“Don’t Explain”), hopes (“Love Dance”) and doubts (“No More”), like the shattered shadows of a sinister quasi-Mendelssohnian scherzo glimpsed by moonlight in a forest. In sheer colour and depth of its characterisation and the exceptional range and refinements of pianism, Mr Blake – abetted by the magical vocalastics of Miss Correa – imparts a power and tragic stature to his humanity that no amount of “bigness” (the usual route taken by pianists) can achieve.

Track list – 1: Don’t Explain; 2: Out Of This World; 3: Lonely Woman; 4: Stratusphunk I; 5: Bebopper; 6: All About Ronnie; 7: Ah, El Novio No Quere Dinero; 8: Stratusphunk II; 9: Love Dance; 10: Wende; 11: Stratusphunk III; 12: No More

Personnel – Ran Blake: piano; Christine Correa: voice

Released – 2018
Label – Red Piano Records (RPR 14599-4434)
Runtime – 41:30