Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Ran Blake: Something to Live For

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

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.