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Ran Blake: Something to Live For

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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.