A collection of standards, covers, and Blake originals recorded at WGBH Studio in Boston in 1998, half of the album solo piano, half in duos with guitarist David Fabris and clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio; a wonderfully paced album showing the distinctive approach Blake brings to jazz by merging elements of compositional, gospel, folk, blues and more.
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Catalog ID: hatOLOGY711
Squidco Product Code: 24150
Recorded at WGBH Studio, in Boston, MA, on March 20th, 1998, by Antonio Oliart.
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1. Elijah Rock 1 (Arr. J. Hairston) 1:50
2. Something to Live For 3:36
3. Get out of Town 4:39
4. Enigma Suite: Part 1 1:12
5. Memphis 6:00
6. Vilna 3:24
7. Enigma Suite: Part 2 1:16
8. Mood Indigo 2:25
9. Eclipse 3:04
10. Elijah Rock 2 (Arr. J. Hairston) 1:20
11. Enigma Suite: Part 3 1:50
12. Judy 5:18
13. A Night in Tunisia 2:29
14. Enigma Suite: Part 4 0:46
16. Throw It Away 3:06
17. Impresario of Death 3:45
18. Doktor Mabuse 2:32
19. Ghosts of Cimetière De Père Lachaise 0:41
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"The world of Ran Blake beckons once again in these performances and, once again, we cannot resist being drawn into that world. We dodge through its shadows and its bright, glaring expanses, alert to the caverns and crevices from which the pianist's images emerge - now gentle, now brutal, always unretouched. The cinematic content of Blake's music, its use of montage and dramatic dissolves, has long been acknowledged. When he works in the short forms he favors here, there is also the clarity and unsparing honesty of a short story collection by an author like the late Raymond Carver. Extra-musical allusions are unavoidable when music evokes all five senses, as Blake's music inevitably does."-Bob Blumenthal
"Ran Blake is original enough to defy comparisons with other pianists of his generation, except of the most general kind. You could say, for instance, that his mid-range dynamics and predilection for understatement recall Bley, but his concerns are vastly different as regards development, harmony and material. Blake's harmonic sense is perhaps his most interesting asset. He consistently finds chords and sequences that are not quite what you expect. I am reminded of the way Messiaen intersperses bald triads with subtly-corrupted creations, but Blake's system is less obvious. Whatever it is, it's far removed from the W.C. Handy-Bud Powell continuum, but he can adopt a spiritual like "Elijah Rock" as effectively as standards, pop pieces, or jazz tunes. David Fabris contributes very interesting guitar and Guillermo Gregorio thoughtful clarinet, so that about half the tunes are duos. Both do a great job fitting in, which is no mean feat."-Duck Baker, JazzTimes
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• Show Bio for Ran Blake
"Ran Blake (b. 20 April 1935, Springfield, MA)
In a career that now spans five decades, pianist Ran Blake has created a unique niche in improvised music as an artist and educator. With a characteristic mix of spontaneous solos, modern classical tonalities, the great American blues and gospel traditions, and themes from classic Film Noir, Blake's singular sound has earned a dedicated following all over the world. His dual musical legacy includes more than 40 albums on some of the world's finest jazz labels, as well nearly 40 years as a groundbreaking educator at Boston's New England Conservatory.
Blake first discovered the dark, image laden and complex character driven films that would so influence his music at age 12 when he first saw Robert Siodmak's Spiral Staircase. "There were post World War II musical nuances that if occasionally banal and as clichéd as yesterday's soap operas, were often so eerie, haunting and unforgettable," Blake would later write. "After more than eighteen viewings during a period of twenty days, plots, scenes, and melodic and harmonic surfaces intermingled, obtruding into my day life as well as my dreams."
Long before the invention of virtual reality, Blake began mentally placing himself inside the films and real life scenarios that inspired his original compositions like "Spiral Staircase", "Memphis" and "The Short Life of Barbara Monk". The influence of the Pentecostal church music he also discovered growing up in Suffield, Connecticut, combined with his musical immersion in what he terms "a Film Noir world," laid the groundwork for his earliest musical style.
That early style would become codified when he and fellow Bard College student and vocalist Jeanne Lee became a duo in the late 1950's. Their partnership would create the landmark cult favorite The Newest Sound Around (RCA) in 1962, introducing the world to both their unique talents and their revolutionary approach to jazz standards. This debut recording would also show the advancing synthesis of Blake's diverse influences with its haunting version of David Raksin's title track from the movie Laura and his original tribute to his first experience with gospel music, "The Church on Russell Street".
The Newest Sound Around was initiated and informally supervised by the man that would be come Blake's most significant mentor and champion, Gunther Schuller. The two began their forty-year friendship at a chance meeting at Atlantic Records' New York studio in January 1959. Less than two years earlier, Schuller coined the term "Third Stream" at a lecture at Brandeis University. Schuller was recording on Atlantic-helping to define his term in musical practice-with future jazz giants like John Lewis, Bill Evans, Eric Dolphy, and Ornette Coleman. Ran Blake came to the label to accept what he calls "a low level position" that allowed him to be near the music of inspirations like Chris Connor, Ray Charles, and Harlem's famous Apollo Theater. Blake's long association with Schuller, modern classical music, and Schuller's controversial term began here, and was forged by years of friendship, collaboration and innovation.
One of the only people in the music world who could see the potential of Blake's unorthodox sounding musical style, Schuller invited Blake to study at the Lenox School of Jazz in the summers of 1959 and 1960. While in Lenox, also home to the classical music mecca at Tanglewood in western Massachusetts, Blake studied with the jazz giants who formed the faculty of this one-of-a-kind institution-Lewis, Oscar Peterson, Bill Russo, and many others-and began formulating his style in earnest. He also studied in New York with piano legends Mary Lou Williams and Mal Waldron.
A year after Schuller became president of Boston's New England Conservatory in 1967, Blake joined his mentor and many one-time teachers and inspirations, including George Russell, as a faculty member at NEC, the first American conservatory to offer a jazz degree. In 1973, Blake became the first Chair of the Third Stream Department, which he co-founded with Schuller at the school. He still holds this position-though the department was recently renamed the Contemporary Improvisation Department to address both its expansion from Blake's own additions and the outdatedness of the term.
Blake's teaching approach emphasizes what he calls "the primacy of the ear," as he believes music is traditionally taught by the wrong sense. His innovative ear and style development process elevates the listening process to the same status as the written score. This approach compliments the stylistic synthesis of the original Third Stream concept, while also providing an open, broad based learning environment that promotes the development of innovation and individuality. Musicians of note Don Byron, Matthew Shipp, and John Medeski have studied with Blake at NEC.Although Blake's teaching career would soon become the second half of his dual musical legacy, his career as an influential performer and wholly individual jazz artist is his main source of fame. Following Jeanne Lee's departure to become one of the premier vocalists in the burgeoning avant-garde, Blake recorded the prototypical Ran Blake Plays Solo Piano (ESP) in 1965. The recording showed a clear refinement of Blake's style of reinventing popular standards by incorporating his other influences from Film Noir, gospel, his favorite pianist Thelonious Monk, and composers like Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Messaien. His reputation as the major Third Stream pianist, and later an educator, soon followed, as he could improvise just as easily on a jazz chord progression as a twelve-tone row.
From 1965 on, Blake worked primarily as a solo pianist on more than 30 albums. Although most of the music was primarily informed by his Film Noir perspective, many of his most acclaimed recordings are tributes to artists like Monk, Sarah Vaughn, Horace Silver, George Gershwin, and Duke Ellington. These tributes merged with his teaching career by inspiring an annual summer course he still teaches at NEC, thoroughly exploring the music of a single artist. He has also recorded with Jaki Byard, Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, Houston Person, Enrico Rava, Clifford Jordan, Ricky Ford, Christine Correa, David "Knife" Fabris, and others, including a 1989 reunion with Jeanne Lee.Most recently, Blake reinvented himself again for a new millennium of fans. Although solo albums like Film Noir (Arista/Novus) and Duke Dreams (Soul Note) earned five star ratings in publications like Down Beat and the All Music Guide to Jazz, 2001's Sonic Temples (GM Recordings) is Blake's best received and most critically acclaimed recording in several years. The recording features Schuller's two jazz musician sons, Ed (bass) and George (drums), whom Blake has known their entire lives and worked with throughout the last 25 years. This is his first recording in the standard piano trio format, an unprecedented statistic for a jazz pianist of his stature. This collaboration, which Gunther Schuller conceived and produced as a testament to the unheard breadth of Blake's abilities, showcases Blake performing with a rhythm section and features a repertoire of up tempo standards and group improvisations, as well as trademark Blake originals.
2012 marked Blake's fifty years as a professional recording artist, making him one of most resilient artists in jazz history. In the tradition of two of his idols, Ellington and Monk, Ran Blake has incorporated and synthesized several otherwise divergent styles and influences into a single innovative and cohesive style all his own, ranking him among the geniuses of the genre. The addition of his innovative aural based teaching approach, and the nearly thirty years he has spent influencing future generations of musicians, makes his contributions to the long tradition of jazz even more impressive.
Fifty years after his innovative duo release with Jeanne Lee, The Newest Sound Around (RCA-Victor, 1961), Ran continues to evolve his noir language on the piano and remains as active as ever with full-time teaching, recordings, touring, and writing a new book, "Storyboarding Noir."
A recent Downbeat review said, "Ran Blake is so hip it hurts ... a pianist who can make you laugh at his dry humor one second and wring a tear the next." His music still sounds fresh and unmistakably unique.
In 2012, Ran performed in Portugal with vocalist Sara Serpa, in France with Ricky Ford's Orchestra at the Toucy International Jazz Festival, and at the Qubec Jazz Festival where he performed solo with Hitchcock's I Confess (1953)."-Ran Blake Website (https://ranblake.com/biography/)
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• Show Bio for David Fabris
"The music of guitarist David Fabris has been steeped deeply in an eclectic pool of influences... His new CD, Lettuce Prey (Great Winds/Musea), is music that is supported equally by the three legs of Rock, Jazz and Classical. It has the guts and glory of rock heroes like Jimi Hendrix (whose tune, Angel, is featured as a guitar solo on this CD). It possesses the surprise and intrigue of Jazz improvisation (like Ornette Coleman's Sadness - presented here in a jazz quintet format). Lastly, it exudes the intricacy and depth of contemporary Classical music - Ives, Prokofiev, and Khatchaturian are among the composers presented here. But the intent is for the styles to coalesce...that the heavy guitar bass and drum treatment of Ginastera's String Quartet No. 2, for example, maintains the sublimation of the original while making the listener pump their fist in the air!
His diverse influences are also evident in the variety of performances and ensembles to his credit: He has recorded 4 albums (Hatology, Soulnote, NoBusiness) and toured internationally with his mentor, third stream pianist Ran Blake, to great acclaim. Blake joins 'The Knife' as a featured guest on Lettuce Prey including 4 tracks left over from their Vilnius Noir LP (NoBusiness). Blake's fans will be interested to hear him playing Hammond B3 organ on this CD for the first time!"-David Fabris Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/pg/daveknifefabris/about/?ref=page_internal)
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• Show Bio for Guillermo Gregorio
"Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1941, American composer and clarinet player Guillermo Gregorio has lived variously in Europe and the United States since 1986. Leading his Chicago-based trio and other ensembles, Gregorio has performed extensively, and his compositions have been recorded on numerous CDs by the Swiss label hatART and the American labels New World Records, Atavistic, and Nuscope, among others. His works have been played by noted New Music ensembles in the USA and Europe, among them Makrokosmos Ensemble (Switzerland) , Ensemble N_ER (EU), International Contemporary Ensemble (USA), Fonema Consort (USA), and the Maverick Ensemble (USA). In addition, as an instrumentalist, Gregorio has worked with many experimental and improvisational groups, including those that recorded the music of Cornelius Cardew, Anthony Braxton, and Philip Corner, among other contemporary composers (see discography for details).
As a composer and improviser, Gregorio has collaborated with Fred Lonberg-Holm, Ran Blake, Steffen Schleiermacher, Steve Swell, Jim O'Rourke, Ken Vandermark, Mats Gustaffson, Axel Dörner, Josh Abrams, Jeff Parker, Jason Adasiewicz, Carrie Biolo, George Graewe, Franz Koglmann, Thomas Lehn, Heiner Reinhardt, Le Quan Ninh, Akikazu Nakamura, Ab Baars, Sebi Tramontana, Mary Oliver, Klaus Koch, Gene Coleman, Enrique Gerardi, Paulo Alvares, Vinko Globokar, Makrokosmos Quartet, François Houl, and Stephen Dembski, among others.
He participated in the Argentine experimental music scene throughout the 1960s, '70s, and early '80s. His involvement with New Music included both composing and playing clarinet, saxophone and miscellaneous instruments in the Movimiento Música Más (Fluxus Group), the Experimental Group of Buenos Aires, and the Group of Contemporary Music of La Plata, featuring Fluxus events, multi-media spectacles, environmental pieces, and experimental concerts. Some of his earlier work in Argentina is available in the CD Guillermo Gregorio: Otra Música. Tape Music, Fluxus and Free Improvisation in Buenos Aires 1963-70 (Atavistic UMS/ALP209CD). After leaving Buenos Aires Gregorio had the opportunity to experience the European creative music scene of the middle '80s, i.e. the fruitful convergence of Free Jazz and 20th-century music and its interconnections with visual art. The interaction with composers and artists of that milieu constituted an indelible mark in his further explorations.
Gregorio-a visual artist himself-has frequently explored the intersection of visual and musical experience. His involvement in visual arts and design is a central influence in his music. In his series entitled "Madi Pieces" and "Coplanars" (1999-2005) Gregorio used Constructivist and geometrically generated ideas in scores ranging from conventionally notated material to graphic systems and open structures. In these compositions, a reinterpretation of the fundamental and structural concepts of Constructivism converges with the historical experiences of Argentinean Conceptualism, Fluxus, intermedia synthesis, and graphic realization. In January 2001, he founded the Madi Ensemble of Chicago, which performed original and historical scores that draw from the conceptual foundation of diverse Argentinean avant-garde currents. His scores related to that period have been exhibited in numerous shows at galleries and institutions, among them the Block Museum of Art (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL), Chelsea Museum of Art (NY), Kettle's Yard Gallery (University of Cambridge, UK), and Elastic, Sound & Vision Gallery (Chicago). Some of Gregorio's works belong to the permanent collections of the MADI Museum and Gallery in Dallas, Texas, and the Centre d'Art Geometrique MADI in Paris. His works have been published in Leonardo, Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, Notations 21 (Mark Batty Publisher), Noon Literary Annual, and other specialized publications. His series of pieces entitled "Otra Música" (2005 to the present), composed using conventional notation, focus on history and critical issues as well as syntactic aspects of texts and music. Still maintaining the openness of the works from the former period, the name of the series-"Otra Música"-refers to the title of a monthly column on experimental and avant-garde sounds that Gregorio wrote for a specialized magazine in Buenos Aires during the early '70s. Currently, Gregorio's interests are related to improvisation and "composition in real time" playing clarinet, in addition to the aforementioned compositions.
Gregorio has a degree in Architecture, and has worked as a graphic designer. As an educator he taught history and theory of architecture at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and history of industrial design and visual communication at the University of La Plata, Argentina. In the USA he has taught history of 20th-century art and art appreciation at Purdue University North Central, Indiana, sound improvisation at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago, and worked as advisor of Grad Projects in the Sound Department of that School. At the present time Gregorio teaches History of Communication Design at Columbia College, Chicago."-Guillermo Gregorio Website (https://ggregorio.com/biography/)
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