All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

4

Ran Blake: Plays Solo Piano

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
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 Piano is a, admirable illustration of not only ESP's vision, but the dynamic nature of jazz. Recorded in 1965, when jazz was exploding in multiple directions and dividing into various camps, Plays Solo Piano is an excellent example how an artist can assimilate multiple musical traditions and integrate them into a very personal vision.

Blake, like the more famous Thelonious Monk, was a champion of the avant-garde who wasn't afraid to incorporate Gospel, Tin Pan Alley stride, and blues. Blake extended that gambit, drawing from classical music and film-noire. Like the abstract paintings of Pollock or de Kooning whose origins were in representational line drawings, Blake's avant- garde music invites you to consider his lineage.

Plays Solo Piano is a nearly lost treasure, long coveted by vinyl collectors. Like a lost-now-found masterpiece it has defects on its surface. The minor distortions of the remastered copy though somehow add a mystique to this found gem. Blake presents four originals, some reconfigurations of jazz masterpieces, and his unique take on traditional song.

Like Monk, he can recite (maybe re-recite) a piece like "Sleepy Time Gal" or "There'll Be Some Changes Made," making them both bygone music and very modern hip pieces. His take on Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman," a classic composition now but only an infant then, draws out the essence of this forlorn piece with an economy of notes and elegant touch. Blake's ability to evoke the true spirit of a tune was fully developed back in 1965. "Good Morning Heartache" roots out the blues and "On Green Dolphin Street" draws an abstract map of the modern piano. His piece "Birmingham U.S.A.," like John Coltrane's "Alabama" was written in response to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963. Where Coltrane's music was an elegy, Blake's is a tirade pounded out on his keyboard.

Track Listing: Vanguard; Stratusphunk; Sleepy Time Gal; On Green Dolphin Street; Eric; There’ll Be Some Changes Made; Good Morning Heartache; Sister Tee; Lonely Woman; Birmingham U.S.A..

Personnel: Ran Blake: piano.

Title: Plays Solo Piano | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: ESP Disk

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Drift CD/LP/Track Review
Drift
by Paul Rauch
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Journey Moments CD/LP/Track Review
Journey Moments
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Moku Maluhia - Peaceful Island CD/LP/Track Review
Moku Maluhia - Peaceful Island
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Night Concert CD/LP/Track Review
Night Concert
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Rumah Batu CD/LP/Track Review
Rumah Batu
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 17, 2018
Read The Bat Swings! CD/LP/Track Review
The Bat Swings!
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 17, 2018
Read "A Sequence of Waves (Twelve Stories and a Dream)" CD/LP/Track Review A Sequence of Waves (Twelve Stories and a Dream)
by Paul Naser
Published: December 8, 2017
Read "Cooking Groove" CD/LP/Track Review Cooking Groove
by Jim Olin
Published: July 15, 2018
Read "Can't Get Started" CD/LP/Track Review Can't Get Started
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 24, 2017
Read "Starebaby" CD/LP/Track Review Starebaby
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 6, 2018
Read "Birthday" CD/LP/Track Review Birthday
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 1, 2018
Read "Trio / Chinese Jesus" CD/LP/Track Review Trio / Chinese Jesus
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 26, 2017