Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
56

Ran Blake: Vilnius Noir

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Ran Blake: Vilnius Noir Although recorded in concert in a church in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius Noir has the feel of eavesdropping on a late night conversation between two old friends who don't need to say very much for the other to grasp the intended meaning. Although guitarist Dave Fabris hails from a different generation than pianist composer Ran Blake, they share a sophisticated approach to the material at hand in this set of duos and solos. They met at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where Blake led the Contemporary Improvisation Department (formerly Third Stream Department). Fabris, whose muse leads him to both experimental jazz and modern chamber music, has appeared on three previous albums with his mentor.

Standards and covers make up the majority of the program on this limited edition LP, some by the likes of Ellington, George Russell and Michel Legrand, but others more obscure. These are placed alongside three Blake originals and one traditional folk song. Half the cuts feature Blake unaccompanied, there are five duets, and a solo for Fabris completes the recital. Blake elegantly deploys an encyclopedic knowledge of both modern classical and blues and gospel tonalities distilled into a deeply personal style in which he manipulates tempo and dynamics to suit his purpose. Tunes are approached obliquely. Shifting from the utmost delicacy to ringing crescendos, Blake implies harmony and rhythm, rarely using more than the bare minimum to make his point.

With his lucent tone and varied attacks, Fabris matches the pianist blow for blow as the spotlight shifts back and forth between them. They essay a spare, gentle melodicism on the opening two cuts, becoming more animated on Russell's "Jack's Blues/Stratusphunk," where they indulge in a fugue-like mirroring before a swinging section to take the medley out. "Mood Indigo" closes the set, with Fabris wielding his slide, exquisitely bending notes in consort with Blake's sideways hints. Alone, Blake displays a feather-light touch on the Yiddish lullaby "Shlof Mayn Kind," the notes like falling snow flakes. The rendition of Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour" becomes almost garrulous in comparison with the rest of this intimate set, the theme easily recognizable, though typically embellished with digressions in the bass register or dissonant asides.


Track Listing: Vilna/Turning Point; Cry Wolf; In Pursuit; Shlof Mayn Kind; Jack's Blues/Stratusphunk; Driftwood; Sontagism; Watch What Happens/Papirosn; Thursday; Desafinado; My Cherie Amour; Mood Indigo.

Personnel: Ran Blake: piano; David "Knife" Fabris: electric guitar.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Chabrol Noir
Chabrol Noir
Impulse!
2016
buy
Ghost Tones: Portraits of George Russell
Ghost Tones:...
A-side Records
2015
buy
Plays Solo Piano
Plays Solo Piano
ESP Disk
2014
buy
Down Here Below
Down Here Below
Self Produced
2012
buy
Vilnius Noir
Vilnius Noir
NoBusiness Records
2012
buy
A Memory Of Vienna
A Memory Of Vienna
Hatology
2010
buy
Eric Dolphy Eric Dolphy
reeds
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
Dave Douglas Dave Douglas
trumpet
Cecil Taylor Cecil Taylor
piano
Geri Allen Geri Allen
piano
Andrew Hill Andrew Hill
piano
Paul Motian Paul Motian
drums
Nels Cline Nels Cline
guitar, electric
Evan Parker Evan Parker
sax, tenor

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus
Support our sponsor

Sponsor: Motéma Music | BUY IT  

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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