Ran Blake@Aperitivo in Concerto, Teatro Manzoni, 3/1/15

All About Jazz, March 11th 2015

By VINCENZO ROGGERO,

(Translated using google translate)

Come across the music of Ran Blake equivalent to embark on a surprising journey in his art, and many are different stimuli, the stresses, the references to other forms of expression as well as the strictly musical. But also becomes a moment of personal reflection, get in a different perspective to go beyond appearances, to discover what lies behind established forms, see what happens when you stand back of superstructures, conventions, certainties. The process by which Blake purifies the music, makes it essential and at the same prism, enriched with multiple meanings, inexorably involves the listener, not just passive element / hospitality event, but in its own way the protagonist.

Not surprising that much so if the display of a Teatro Manzoni usual crowded, Blake combines Max Roach with Edith Piaf, Duke Ellington with Stevie Wonder, Nino Rota with Yiddish music. All lit by his unique style influenced by the blues as the gospel, classical as jazz, but inimitable in combining these elements through touches almost imperceptible, silences full density, sparse but decisive cluster, lines dangerously poised between tonality and dissonance. It is music played on whispers rather than on shouting but no less intense or penetrating.

On stage to accompany Blake succeed violinist Eden MacAdam-Somer and trombonist Aaron Hartley. Very prim and precise, it is functional to the poetics of the pianist for the truth without a significant impact on its trajectory. Definitely exuberant and eclectic Macadam-Somer, the protagonist of a formidable version dell’ellingtoniana “Jump for Joy,” a sort of “one woman band” that has seen the same time committed to the violin, voice and percussive dance in a mo ‘ accompanying.

But it is the sound of the two movies from “The Spiral Staircase” by Robert Siodmak and “Dr. Mabuse” Fritz Lang’s the highlight of the exhibition. The first, solo piano, allowed to fully appreciate the art of improvisation Blake, his ability to capture the essence of the images not only as reinforcement expressive but as a starting point for further development of the creative process which, although thematically relevant , it turns into something else. The second, with the trio to complete, has enhanced the dynamics, timbre combinations, the originality of the arrangements and instrumental combinations.

To conclude, a moving, suspended, crystalline interpretation of “Lush Life,” seals a superb concert celebrates an artist so shy and out of the spotlight as brilliant ideas, innovative obliquely, brilliantly unconventional.

LINK

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01/03/2015 – di Vittorio Formenti

(Translated using google translate)

It would be a mistake to consider macroscopic Ran Blake figure as “historic” the jazz pianism, meaning the adjective in the sense of belonging to the past.
Despite its venerable age (born in 1935) and a physical form no longer bursting Blake retains intellectual energy and a charge current of absolute importance, able to influence contemporary artists such as Matthew Shipp, John Medesky and Yithzak Yedid thanks activity educator music developed at the New England Conservatory.
Its presence in Milan with two young partners as Aaron Hartley (trombone, young collaborator Sam Rivers) and Eden Macadam-Somer (vocals and violin soloist in a group Klezmer Conservatory Band, truly remarkable) certifies this ability to give a future to their artistic vision with clear acknowledgment of the new generations.
The concert has highlighted all the characteristic features of the art of the musician of Springfield and, in this sense, did not disappoint either fans or those who approached his proposal for the first time.
His openness to every musical event emerges from the ladder proposal that uses food for Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Nino Rota, Edith Piaf, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Nat King Cole to name a few. The song form, however, is decomposed, analyzed and reported on a more abstract level from which you fall sometimes with quotes rapids of the themes. Studies of Bartok and Debussy clearly emerge for the ability to bind to the tradition vividly, a strong harmonic approach and control of counterpoint (and especially of certain unisons) leading effectively to new
Blake has always been passionate about art noir and this aspect is manifested in the round in the two tracks where the music “flows” of images of the film “Spiral Staircase” Siodmak and “Dr. Mabuse “by F. Lang; the musicians play watching the screen, but the result is not a soundtrack, and even a musical score. It is syncretic union of cultural influences that the steps may not appear immediately consistent shooting; However, one without the other would lose tension. They are real moments of contemporary art with colors in black and white with no artifacts; Man Ray instead of Oliviero Toscani. Blake also uses effectively to some “figures of speech” useful to keep tension in the narrative as certain arpeggios detached or the flow of intense and corrugated low notes.
The approach “Third Stream”, by Blake with Schuller launched in late 50s and understood as enhancement of jazz and classical, is documented by the spirit of impressionistic harmonies vitalized by improvisation, from percussive of certain passages and the ability to give body structures suite. The episode dedicated to Rota and “Hello Beautiful” rather than inspired by Fats Waller, Cole Porter and Gershwin are an excellent document.
But the scene was not just Ran. Eden Macadam-Somer gave wonderful moments with his violin and his singing. At the turn of contemporary, jazz and klezmer showed an excellent ability to pronounce musical dosing pinched / detached / tied with consistency and simplicity. His voice in “Rumi Songs” (song from her compound) evoked the basics Irish American history with a tone that reminded Sandy Denny; in “Blue Gardenia” (Nat King Cole) prevails an approach to Joni Mitchell, very open and harmoniously with tensions noir. In “Of Sapozhkeleh” (traditional Yiddish song) showed the synergy with the tradition of Eastern Europe, assimilated in its essentiality Marauders avoiding references to folk dance. “Jump for joy” (Duke Ellington “) is executed with incredible ability to dance, sing and play at the same time without the violin is limited to accompany it constitutes a real additional entry. The audience appreciated with intensity.
The trombone Aaron Hartley spoke less but has been able to express themselves straddling loft jazz and musical sense of the Weill, in full harmony with the philosophy of the third current already mentioned.
Perhaps the only drawback of the day was the reduced number of episodes in the trio; the moments just prevailed leave a bit ‘of nostalgia for the quality demonstrated when the combo worked together.
A concert of absolute value, which confirmed the validity and quality of this exhibition for which, without any flattery and second end, we would like to express the best compliments to the organization and artistic direction.
Photographs courtesy of: Roberto Cifarelli

LINK

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L’incanto milanese di Ran Blake

Fabio Francione, MILANO, 3.3.2015

(Translated using google translate)

The Milanese Aperitif in concert ?? Last Sunday they left drag by eddies music of so-called third stream ?? jazz, originated by the trio of Ran Blake: the legendary, shy and isolated octogenarian pianist Massachusetts. Since the seventies, Blake was unsurpassed popularizer of the so called Third Stream music ??, reconstructing in his teaching at the New England Conservatory in Boston and in his albums theories advocated by the critic and composer Gunther Schuller some twenty years earlier. In fact, in just over five years, from 1957 to 1962, musicians like Mingus, JJ Johnson, Jimmy Giufrè, John Lewis and the same Schuller, made its theoretical cornerstones of Third Stream ?? managing to produce some masterpieces, before this confluisse in free jazz and sperdesse in the many strands of improvisation marked by innovations instrumental John Coltrane or Ornette Coleman.

Suffice it to say that out of time, in 1967, Joe Zawinul, while grappling with the streets ?? electric Miles Davis, told in his own way that adventure in an album like The Rise & Fall of the Third Stream ??, tornandoci of four years later with the same name ?? Zawinul, disc ¬ opened numerous doors to jazz the years ’70. From this recovery was not without Ran Blake became a student of Schuller as was Mary Lou Williams, representatives somehow the two poles of his musical research: the same one that has found fertile place and applauded in the program, studied in detail and presented in this unique Italian date, including tributes to film noir and neo-realist (here Rossellini’s Rome Open City / Open City opens the partisan song par excellence, Hello Beautiful, rarefied in microgrumi musical coming to connect with fantasies Fellini Rota) and dedications scattered here and there among songs and compositions unrecognized or very famous.

Blake arrived in Milan without sparing, leading a trio by trombonist trust and image manipulator Aaron Hartley and Eden MacAdam-Somer, violinist capable of making his instrument between echoes reverberate bartokiani and suggestions ethno folk singer and at the same time with a good dose performative dearest to his leader. Indeed, with their pianism of Blake, highly meditative has often assumed a dimension iperletteraria for their reporting, the program as a discard sound dismissive from time to time through withdrawals from the American songbook, from tributes to Stevie Wonder and Chris Connor ( the last album Cocktail at Dusk dedicated to her), and that with rapid scene changes allowed the audience more than just listening closed with no possibility of recovery in Lush Life.

The famous composition of Billy Strayhorn mail so ¬ epilogue to the coherent musical discourse Blake is tied perfectly to his biography of the man ‘900 and enchanted listeners with stories of others sent back to the familiar chime of a survivor of Auschwitz.

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Ran Blake dalla penombra incanta il pubblico del Teatro Manzoni

(Translated using google translate)

The pianist Ran Blake is a true legend of contemporary American music. Student of Mary Lou Williams, close to Thelonious Monk, director of the Third Stream Department at the New England Conservatory in Boston, had among his students Matthew Shipp, Ricky Ford, John Medeski and Don Byron, who worked with musicians such as Gunther Schuller, Steve Lacy , Clifford Jordan, Jeanne Lee, Jaki Byard.

Ran Blake is a charming solitary poet, creator of a piano night and full of nuances, echoes, memories, shreds of rhythms and melodies that, even in the modern language, explores with elegant constancy even the entire American Songbook, giving new look, new meanings and new life to the repertoire of the so-called standard.

In Milan, Blake has performed joined by trombonist Aaron Hartley and the virtuoso violinist Eden MacAdam-Somer, currently a soloist of a group like the Klezmer Conservatory Band of Boston. Interviewed by the magazine ‘Jazz’, Blake anticipated part of the program of his long-awaited concert in Milan:

“We will interpret music by Konrad Elfers, from the film ‘Dr. Mabuse ‘. Aaron will sound a bit ‘of Billy Strayhorn. Re-present something from the repertoire of ‘The Unmarked Van’ and improvise on themes that I created for the scene of the steps of the ‘Spiral Staircase’. I know there will be songs dedicated to Mahalia Jackson, Chris Connor and Abbey Lincoln, and I will do a solo on “Freedom Day” by Max Roach. ”

The exhibition is completed by period films, was of great intensity with continuous quotes on long solos Blake able to move with ease from ‘Hello Beautiful’ to ‘Freedom Day’ gave the large audience present a long moment of exciting musical ecstasy.

Ran Blake, defined by Pauline Door ‘The Frank Zappa piano’ offered us a practical demonstration of how important owning what jazz musicians of the old lever called ‘touch’, which has nothing to do with the amount of notes produced or the speed with which it is produced, but rather, with the delicacy and the intensity of the sound, and with the ability to transmit such intensity of the listening audience.

A special thanks to Mrs. Viviana Allocchio Manager Special Initiatives Fininvest / Teatro Manzoni for the kind invitation.

Images and text by Angela Bartolo

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3/2/15
(Translated using google translate)
 Concerts like the one on Sunday at Manzoni seem to be made to refute certain paradigms in music critics who have long lead back and you read more and more often on social networking, about some basic elements on which the present and the poggerebbero future of contemporary improvised music, more or less extraction jazz.

One of these is that this music, to evolve and not die creatively, should tend toward complex shapes, abandoning the simplest ones related to the song form, now deemed exhausted as a result of a process of maturation of a musical language that inevitably veer towards forms more sophisticated, next to the great tradition of European classical music.

The other argument very beaten and debated is that related to the concepts, often used improperly, the “universality” and “contamination”, for a language considered perfectly transposable outside of his place of birth and development and not attributable to one region or ethnic group, but used as a tool available to any musician I’ve learned and riding anywhere in the world, “contaminating” on the basis of personal experience and musical culture.

Saying it in an extremely concise, the now octogenarian, poetic and solitary Ran Blake, in a couple of hours of concert provided us with a perfect cross-section of America in music, well beyond the jazz, and why certain linguistic syncretism, often artificially sought, there have developed so naturally, in a place where they have historically been able to meet so many different people and cultures, allowing the generation of a unique musical culture, to date still difficult to repeat in other continents with similar artistic results .

Mind you, this is done with a highly educated musician, perfect knowledge of popular songs, which have become so-called “standards”, but at the same time convinced advocate and representative of the “Third Stream” that aims to bring together the procedures of the compositional classical music with jazz (Blake is still director of the Third Stream Department at the New England Conservatory in Boston) and therefore would not have any difficulty to share certain ideas and practices of composition.

However, considering the music of Blake as pure “jazz” would be a mistake, because it is only one ingredient and maybe not even the main sources of the many which his genius and his artistic mark refer, as it is not necessary to find yourself l ‘ typical element of the swing. Is probably more correct to consider it as part of the so-called “American”, which can be identified many other roots music, including, referring to this concert, the Midwest, the country-western, the music of Jewish extraction, and much more, going that is well beyond the basin cultural ethnicity African-American.

At the center of the implementation of the concert program, you are shown the two major arts developed in the twentieth century in the United States: the film and that of the vast book of popular songs produced by major American composers, the so-called American Songbook. Blake plays Gershwin and Cole Porter coming up to Stevie Wonder, through Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, in the mind with singers such as Nat King Cole, Abbey Lincoln, Jeanne Lee, Chris Connor, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder himself. All filtered by his unmistakable musical personality and piano which, inspired by the poetry of lost elements of Monk and Paul Bley, uses more than phrasing the timbre and dynamics of the instrument, with a skillful game of pedals, with extensive use of pauses , silences, dissonant chords very sophisticated and full-bodied, in a process of recomposition of the factual issues of departure, whether Autumn in New York, Lush Life, or Love for Sale, rather than Blue Gardenia, or Mendacity Hello Beautiful.

Particular aesthetic distance and expressive base was the tribute to Stevie Wonder, with the revival of three of his famous subjects in a sort of medley: I Wish theme ritmatissimo reread in a whole new light, but not totally upset and interpolated with more akin, meditative They Will not Go When I No, Is not She Lovely and the ballad You and I. Some picky mind musicological nostrana will eventually ask why a deep intellectuality music like that of Blake will take the trouble to read Wonder, considering it no more or less like a Gershwin or Ellington.

With regard to the cinema, of which he is a passionate lover, Blake with his students-collaborators proposed improvised music scenes projected on dining in “The Spiral Staircase” by Robert Siodmak and “Dr.Mabuse” by Fritz Lang and music by Konrad Elfers .

A special mention deserves the performance, remarkable for musicality and vocal, the violinist and singer Eden Macadam-Somer, who gave an interesting version solitary dell’ellingtoniano Jump for Joy, reinterpreted in a country-western and a surprising, original dedication to Ray Charles with Hallelujah I Love Her So !, in addition to running a traditional Yiddish. The young musician has recorded a voice very close to that of a Joni Mitchell more technical, with veins blues and Middle Eastern, and with an excellent sense of rhythm, using even the beating of the feet.

If you can make a note in the project, even if foreseeable considered loneliness meditative music of the elderly leader, is the lack of involvement in the group just two instrumentalists, who seemed a little thing ‘in its own right than its pianism night.

Closing the consistent and challenging concert program, actually maybe more suited to a prelude to an aperitif that evening to Sunday lunch, with a solo piano sull’immancabile monkiano ‘Round About Midnight.
(Riccardo Facchi)