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Ran Blake: Ran Blake Plays Solo Piano

Although many of the titles in the ESP-Disk’ catalog have been reissued multiple times since their original releases, Ran Blake Plays Solo Piano has been an unfortunate exception. Aside from a rare Italian reissue, the album hasn’t really been seen or heard since it first appeared in 1965.

Blake might not have been as radical as Albert Ayler or Burton Greene, but his solo recital was and is venturesome, albeit for different reasons. Like Monk on his solo Thelonious Himself, Blake isn’t afraid to subvert beloved standards, and his playing develops with a strikingly pensive thoughtfulness. He stretches Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” so far out of tempo that the melody is hard to recognize. “On Green Dolphin Street” is threatened by dissonant harmonies added to the normally delicate theme. Conversely, “Sleepy Time Gal” begins with turbulence and settles down gradually, though it never loses an ominous feeling.

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