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Ran Blake/Christine Correa: Streaming (Red Piano)

Review of the fourth album of duets by the pianist and singer

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Cover of Ran Blake/Christine Correa album Streaming
Cover of Ran Blake/Christine Correa album Streaming

Third-stream guru Ran Blake, who, as pianist and composer, built upon his devotion to Ellington and Monk to shape a uniquely dynamic aesthetic, has frequently recorded with vocalists. His 1961 union with Jeanne Lee remains the widest celebrated, but his most enduring kinship has been with Bombay-born Christine Correa. They met nearly four decades ago, when Correa arrived at the New England Conservatory of Music, where Blake had taught since 1967. Their superb Round About arrived in 1994. They teamed up again in the studio after a nearly two-decade gap, again showcasing standards and Blake originals, then, most recently, crafted a sublime pair of discs in tribute to Abbey Lincoln.

Blake, now 83, and Correa, 20 years his junior, remain brilliantly complementary, his minimalist angularity so masterfully irradiating her scorched magnificence. Their 12-track Streaming includes just one Blake composition, the bitterly regretful “Wende.” Blake recorded it solo in 1976. Here Correa goes it alone, chillingly a cappella. Blake, too, is provided individual space for three haunting explorations of George Russell’s “Stratusphunk.” Standards extend from a raw “Out of This World”—equal parts corporeal and ethereal—and wailing “Lonely Woman” to a fervently yearning “All About Ronnie,” satiny “Love Dance,” and strident “No More,” the forlorn yet empowering ballad that Billie Holiday once called her all-time favorite. They add a loping reading of Dexter Gordon and Leonard Feather’s “Bebopper” and a brief but glorious take on the Sephardic wedding song “Ah, El Novio No Quiere Dinero.”


Originally Published