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Jazz Articles

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ran Blake: Ghost Tones: Portraits of George Russell

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Sometimes an album can haunt you. It can be a companion that follows you through life. In the liner notes for the album: Ghost Tones: Portraits of George Russell (A-Side Records, 2015), pianist and composer Ran Blake reveals his love for composer and bandleader George Russell's album Jazz Workshop (RCA-Victor, 1957): “I listened to it so much that I wore out several copies, each time having to revisit the record store to replace it." Blake's love for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ran Blake: Ghost Tones: Portraits of George Russell

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Pianist/composer Ran Blake presents a loving tribute to his late colleague George Russell in a diverse program anchored by his sensitive piano playing. Blake and Russell taught together at the New England Conservatory for many years. Russell was immensely influential as a modal jazz theorist, but Blake loves his compositions above all. He interprets several of them here, along with some of his own and a few biographically relevant standards. The set opens and closes with solo piano ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ran Blake: Ghost Tones: Portraits of George Russell

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At eighty years of age, pianist Ran Blake has shaped an impressive and multifaceted legacy: four decades of mentoring students at the New England Conservatory; helping shape a new genre of music, Third Stream, the marriage of the jazz and classical worlds; his teaming with the lady vocalists--Jeanne Lee, Christine Correa, Sara Serpa, Dominque Eade; numerous solo piano recordings, and a handful-plus of tribute sets, honoring icons like Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughn. Ghost Tones ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ran Blake: Plays Solo Piano

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ESP Disk's 50th anniversary reissue series continues to unearth valuable documents from the history of cutting edge music. Back in the 1960s, when jazz was becoming marginalized as popular music and disenfranchised by the rise of rock-and-roll, ESP chose to eliminate musical classifications that pigeonholed creative music. The label released music by Albert Ayler and Gato Barbieri at the same time it was producing The Fugs and Pearls Before Swine. This re-release of pianist Ran Blake's Plays Solo ...

BAILEY'S BUNDLES

At the Corner: Ran Blake / Sara Serpa / Christine Correa

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The common element between Sara Serpa's Aurora and Christine Correa's Down Here Below is obviously pianist Ran Blake. Enigmatic to a fault, Blake has made a potent name for himself among improvised music enthusiasts. Blake is an intellectual amalgam of pianists Thelonious Monk and Martial Solal distilled to a dissonant essence. A long time professor at the New England Conservatory, Blake has taken many under his tutelage, specifically singers, beginning with Jeanne Lee on The Newest Sound ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sara Serpa / Ran Blake: Aurora

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Aurora is vocalist Sara Serpa's second release with her mentor, pianist Ran Blake. A duet recital recorded live at Lisbon's Auditório da Culturges, despite being more laidback and slightly less adventurous, it is just as creative as the pair's engrossing Camera Obscura (Inner Circle, 2010). Serpa and Blake's sparse and atmospheric delivery of these dozen songs is inventive, intellectually stimulating and satisfying. The cinematic “Dr. Mabuse" features Serpa's wordless vocals, moving from wistfully contemplative to fiercely passionate, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sara Serpa / Ran Blake: Aurora

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Portuguese vocalist Sara Serp's follow-up to Camera Obscura (Inner Circle, 2010), with renowned pianist Ran Blake, retains the fresh and irreverent approach of their debut. A former student of Blake's the two never sound obvious or predictable, even when they are interpreting popular jazz standards. Their versions offer deeper and often innocent insights to some of these most memorable songs. Aurora's 12 songs were recorded live in Serpa's hometown of Lisbon, and demonstrates the duo's highly personal ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ran Blake and Christine Correa: Down Here Below

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Starting with the inimitable Jeanne Lee, pianist Ran Blake has been collaborating with adventurous vocalists for half a century. These are singers who are not satisfied by merely parroting the old repertoire in the same tried and true, but also musty and tired way. These are musicians whose vocal cords command close listening, as is the case with the Mumbai-born and New York-based Christine Correa. This Abbey Lincoln tribute, Down Here Below, is the third time Correa ...


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