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Ran Blake / Christine Correa: Streaming

Jerome Wilson By

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Pianist Ran Blake has been known for his duo work with vocalists dating back to his 1962 collaboration with Jeanne Lee, The Newest Sound Around (RCA Victor). In recent years, he has been working with three individualistic singers, Sara Serpa, Dominique Eade and Christine Correa. The year 2017 brought a session of folk songs and soundtrack music with Eade, the excellent Town And Country (Sunnyside Records). This time it's Correa's turn in a program of mostly jazz and pop standards.

Correa has a thick, aggressive singing voice reminiscent of Abbey Lincoln, and is often the commanding focal point on these duets, while Blake provides icy backgrounds. This really comes out on Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman," which she starts with a chilling solo blues-tinged scream before tearing into the lyrics with a forceful Middle Eastern wail, as Blake strikes bell-like single notes and ominous chords. On "Out of this World," "All About Ronnie" and "Bebopper," she sings with more ease and melodic flow but maintains a sharp, angular phrasing that plays well off Blake's fragments of swing and bop piano. She really struts her vocal prowess on a Sephardic folk song "Ah, El Novio No Quere Dinero" and a noirish, a cappella version of Blake's "Wende." But her most extravagant performance is on an eight- minute version of Ivan Lins' "Love Dance," where she sounds alternately yearning, poetic and ghostly over Blake's deliberate, moody playing.

Throughout the disc, Blake's piano work is its usual mesmerizing mixture of dark chords, dreamlike fragments and tipsy saloon blues, creating backgrounds worthy of an Alfred Hitchcock score. In addition to his duets with Correa, he also performs three short solo variations on George Russell's "Stratusphunk," one bluesy, one menacing, and one slow-crawling ballad that seems to have been crossed with Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso."

Ran Blake is one of the most distinctive musicians in the jazz realm, with an uneasy minimalist style of piano playing that conjures thoughts of dark shadows and 3 AM nightmares. Match him with the searing voice of Christine Correa and the result is deep, disquieting music full of both seductive beauty and nebulous dread. This is an outstanding duo set.

Track Listing: Don’t Explain; Out Of This World; Lonely Woman; Stratusphunk I; Bebopper; All About Ronnie; Ah, El Novio No Quere Dinero; Stratusphunk II; Love Dance; Wende; Stratusphunk III; No More.

Personnel: Ran Blake: piano; Christine Correa: voice.

Title: Streaming | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Red Piano Records

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