Ran Blake is an iconoclast. Since his 1961 collaboration with Jeanne Lee on RCA, Ran Blake has released 35 albums on such labels as ESP, Soul Note, Arista and hatOLOGY. His 2006 album on the Tompkins Square label, ‘All That Is Tied’, received 4 stars in Downbeat and earned top honors in the 2007 Penguin Guide to Jazz. Penguin’s editor Brian Morton and Wire Magazine hailed the record as a “masterpiece.”
For his new solo piano outing, ‘Driftwoods’, Ran salutes his favorite singers, interpreting songs popularized by Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson, Hank Williams, Nat King Cole and more.
To celebrate the release, Ran will play a rare live solo piano performance at 9PM on WGBH on March 18th, airing locally on 89.7FM Boston and streaming globally via wgbh.org/jazz, click on “Listen Live.”
New York Times 2.1.09:
The pianist Ran Blake seems to hear other people’s music through a kind of creative seance; in the process it becomes transformed. On “Driftwoods” (Tompkins Square), a new solo piano record, he takes a tightly written old pop song – like “Dancing in the Dark,” “Unforgettable” or “Lost Highway” – and reveals behind it a slow-moving fantasia, full of shuddering harmony played with the sustain pedal down. He puts stops and elongations into each tune, making it move like a sleepwalker until a hard blues phrase wakes it up. He’s been doing this for nearly 50 years, forming his own canon of composers and performers from across the best of midcentury jazz, gospel, soul and classical music, and he’s still in great form.