The legendary Gunther Schuller has the utmost respect for pianist/educator Ran Blake, as he profoundly states: "I have never encountered anyone who can do some of the things that Ran can do with the utmost ease and naturalness." Here, Schuller produces Blake's inaugural piano trio recording, which in retrospect seems somewhat amazing when considering the artist's forty-year recorded legacy.
Along with the chivalrous assistance of bassist, Ed Schuller, drummer George Schuller and guest artist, saxophonist Nicole Kampgen Schuller, Blake invites the listener to partake in a sanctuary of sound on this noteworthy 2-CD release. Nonetheless, it should be of no surprise that Blake generally investigates each tune, with perhaps the fortitude and intent of someone delving a bit deeper than your average, well-schooled jazz pianist. However, Blake, underscores the significance of this outing via his meticulous fabrications of a variety of standards and originals while artfully utilizing space as a means to inject a loose, or airy vibe into the program. They explore wide-open vistas amid a punchy groove on "Tangerine," whereas Blake's subtle intricacies, understated chord voicings provide a storybook type atmosphere during his composition titled, "The Short Life of Barbara Monk." Ed Schuller's broad toned acoustic bass marks the intro to a quasi-free jazz interpretation of "I Can't Get Started"
The pianist's somewhat introverted and probing solo performance of "Laura" serves as a prime example of how Blake can shed new light to a tune that has probably been covered thousands of times. On this piece, the artist digs deep from within while extracting the nature of the melody.
Kampgen Schuller performs on three selections, one of which is a warmly enacted duet with the pianist on "You Don't Know What Love Is." Blake's composition, "Wende" features a series of bluesy statements and subliminal diversions. Thus, Sonic Temples is a profusely elegant affair that shines forth with the reverence of a coveted museum piece.