Ran Blake

Search for Christine Correa / Ran Blake albums under Christine Correa. Ran Blake (b. Ran Blake (b. 20 April 1935 Springfield, MA) Ran Blake is a pianist who has carved a niche in improvised musical education and as an artist. Blake’s unique sound has gained a loyal following around the globe. It features a mix of spontaneous solos as well as modern classical tonalities and great American blues and gospel songs. Blake’s dual musical legacy includes over 30 albums on some the best jazz labels in the world, and nearly 30 years of teaching at Boston’s New England Conservatory. Blake was 12 years old when he saw Robert Siodmak’s Spiral Staircase. It was then that he discovered dark, character-driven films. Blake later wrote that “there were post World War II musical nuances that, even if they were banal and clichéd like yesterday’s soap operas were often so haunting, unforgettable and eerie.” After more than 18 viewings over a twenty-day period, plots, scenes and melodic and musical surfaces intertwined, intruding into both my day and my dreams. Blake started mentally imagining himself in the films and real-life scenarios that inspired his original compositions, such as “Spiral Staircase”, and “Memphis”. His early musical influences, including the Pentecostal church music that he grew up in Suffield (Connecticut), and his immersion in “a Film Noir universe,” helped to create his first musical style. He and Jeanne Lee, a fellow student at Bard College, would form a duo in late 1950’s. Their collaboration would result in the iconic cult favourite The Newest Sound Around (RCA), which was released in 1962. It introduced the world to their unique talents as well as their innovative approach to jazz standards. The debut album would show Blake’s evolving synthesis of diverse influences. It featured a haunting rendition of David Raksin’s title song from the movie Laura, as well as his original tribute to “The Church On Russell Street”, his first encounter with gospel music. Gunther Schuller, Blake’s mentor and champion, initiated The Newest Sound Around and supervised it informally. Their forty-year friendship began at a chance encounter at Atlantic Records’ New York Studio in January 1959. Two years earlier, Schuller invented the term “Third Stream” during a Brandeis University lecture. Schuller was on Atlantic recording, helping to define his term musical practice, with future jazz greats like John Lewis and Bill Evans. Ran Blake joined the label to accept a “low level position” that would allow him to be close to music legends Chris Connor, Ray Charles and Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Blake’s association with Schuller, modern music and Schuller’s controversial title, began here. It was years of friendship, collaboration, and innovation that led to this long-lasting relationship. Schuller was the first person in the music industry to see the potential of Blake’s unconventional musical style. He invited Blake to attend the Lenox School of Jazz during the summers of 1959-60. Blake spent time in Lenox, Massachusetts, where he also studied classical music at Tanglewood. He met with Bill Russo and Oscar Peterson who were jazz legends, and began to formulate his own style. Blake also studied with Mal Waldron and Mary Lou Williams, two of the most renowned pianists in New York. Blake was appointed to the faculty of NEC in 1967, one year after Schuller was elected president of Boston’s New England Conservatory. This conservatory was the first American conservatory that offered a jazz degree. Blake was named the third Stream Department Chair in 1973. He co-founded the department with Schuller. This position is still held by Blake, though the department was renamed to the Contemporary Improvisation Department in recent years due to its expansion through Blake’s additions and the aging of the term. Blake believes music cannot be taught using the wrong sense of the word. His teaching style emphasizes the “primacy of the ear.” Blake’s innovative style and ear development processes elevate the listening experience to the same level as the written score. This approach complements the stylistic synthesis of Third Stream, but also provides an open learning environment that encourages innovation and individuality. Blake has been a mentor to musicians Matthew Shipp and Don Byron. Blake’s teaching career would become only half of his musical legacy. However, his reputation as a jazz musician and influential performer is his main source. Blake recorded the 1965 classic Ran Blake Plays Solo piano (ESP) after Jeanne Lee left to become a leading singer in the burgeoning avantgarde. The recording reflected Blake’s ability to reinvent popular standards through his influences from Film Noir, gospel, Thelonious Monk and composers such as Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Messaien. He quickly earned a reputation as a major Third Stream pianist and educator. He could improvise on a 12-tone row or a jazz chord progression. Blake was a solo pianist for more than 30 albums from 1965 to the present. While most of his music was inspired by Film Noir, many of his most popular recordings are tributes and songs to artists such as Sarah Vaughn (Monk), Sarah Vaughn, Horace Silver and George Gershwin. He combines these tributes with his teaching career to create an annual summer course at NEC that explores the music of one artist. Blake has recorded with Jaki byard, Anthony Braxton and Steve Lacy. He also recorded with Clifford Jordan (Soul Note), Ricky Ford, Ricky Ford, Ricky Ford, Christine Correa and David “Knife” Fabris. While solo albums like Film Noir, (Arista/Novus), and Duke Dreams (Soul Note), earned five stars in publications such as Down Beat and The All Music Guide to Jazz (All Music Guide to Jazz), 2001’s Sonic Temples is Blake’s most well-received and critically acclaimed recording. Blake’s sons Ed (bass) u0026 George (drums) are featured on the recording. They have been friends for 25 years and Blake has worked with them throughout their lives. He records this in standard piano trio format for the first time, a remarkable feat for a jazz pianist his age. As a testimony to Blake’s unheard abilities, Gunther Schuller produced this collaboration. It features Blake performing with a rhythm band and includes a variety of up-tempo standards and group improvisations as well as original Blake songs. Blake will celebrate forty years of professional recording artistry in 2002. This makes him one the most resilient jazz artists. Ran Blake, following the footsteps of Monk and Ellington, has combined a variety of styles and influences to create a unique and cohesive style that ranks him among the greatest jazz musicians. His innovative, aural-based teaching method and nearly 30 years of experience in influencing future generations makes his contribution to jazz’s long history even more remarkable. Scott Menhinick, Winter 2002. From www.ranblake.com

Leave a Comment