242

Ran Blake: Something to Live For

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
Ran Blake: Something to Live For Ran Blake is not precisely a minimalist, although he is seldom loquacious, and has a spare and virtually unerring sense of placement. He is transcendently evocative without ever lapsing into easy sentimentality, and can sum up, with just a few notes, effects that a hundred thrashers and bashers never approach. He can whisper. He can sing and he can pound. He never does anything to excess. He is a master.

Another delightful aspect of Ran Blake's playing - abundantly clear on this disc - is his catholicity. Here, alongside a few originals, are works by Duke and Billy, Diz, and Cole Porter. The usual suspects? Sure. But there's also Mingus' "Eclipse"; two takes of the spiritual that Mahalia Jackson made famous, "Elijah Rock"; Al Green's "Judy"; Abbey Lincoln's "Throw It Away"; "Vilna" by A. Olshanetsky and L. Wolfson; and "Doktor Mabuse" by Konrad Ellers.

Of the nineteen brief numbers on this disc, nine are solos by Blake. These are all infused with his customary elegance, especially his originals. The lengthiest and most fully developed of these pieces is the six-minute "Memphis." This track contains several of the characteristic motifs Blake returns to frequently on this disc (and elsewhere): a great fluidity of rhythm and a lyrical sheen that is often punctuated, but never broken, by short percussive blasts.

Joining Blake on five tracks is the guitarist David "Knife" Fabris; on five others is Guillermo Gregorio on clarinet. Fabris is a coloristic and percussive guitarist who shares Blake's soft-spokenness and sense of restraint. The pieces that feature him - notably "Vilna" - are arhythmic, sparse forays that achieve a kind of postmodern melodicism: the calm after the storm. Gregorio pitches in on the four-part "Enigma Suite," as well as Blakes's "Impresario of Death." The brief "Suites" are among the most abstract pieces on this disc. Gregorio's understated approach is a perfect match for Blake; Blake accompanies the clarinetist here as well as anyone ever has.

This is a beautiful disc, but not in any conventional sense. It is jazz infused with a rare harmonic and rhythmic sophistication. Don't miss this prime chance to hear a master at work.

Hatology discs can be obtained from North Country distributors, Cadence Bldg., Redwood, NY 13679. Phone/fax: (315) 287-2852 and (315) 287-2860. Email: orders@cadencebuilding.com. Website: http://www.cadencebuilding.com.

Track listing: Elijah Rock 1 / Something to Live For / Get Out of Town / Enigma Suite: Part 1 / Memphis / Vilna / Enigma Suite: Part 2 / Mood Indigo / Eclipse / Elijah Rock 2 / Enigma Suite: Part 3 / Judy / A Night in Tunisia / Enigma Suite: Part 4 / Nightcrawler / Throw It Away / Impresario of Death / Doktor Mabuse / Ghosts of Cimetière de Père Lachaise.


Personnel:

Ran Blake, p; David "Knife" Fabris, g; Guillermo Gregorio, cl.

Title: Something to Live For | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Hat Hut Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Magnetic CD/LP/Track Review Magnetic
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 27, 2017
Read A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: July 27, 2017
Read Someone Else CD/LP/Track Review Someone Else
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 27, 2017
Read Falling Forward CD/LP/Track Review Falling Forward
by James Nadal
Published: July 27, 2017
Read I Know Who I Am CD/LP/Track Review I Know Who I Am
by James Nadal
Published: July 26, 2017
Read "Love Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 25, 2017
Read "Saluting Sgt. Pepper" CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute" CD/LP/Track Review Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 11, 2016
Read "Seven Secrets" CD/LP/Track Review Seven Secrets
by John Kelman
Published: May 26, 2017
Read "Earprint" CD/LP/Track Review Earprint
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 14, 2016
Read "Tracé Provisoire" CD/LP/Track Review Tracé Provisoire
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 10, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.