Throughout his long career, pianist Ran Blake has always pushed the boundaries, especially as a soloist. Indeed, some of his earlier record dates resulted in material that doubtless caused bewilderment among listeners with less-adventurous minds than his. Through his teaching at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he has been since the late 1960s, Blake has gradually awakened many to his way of thinking about contemporary music. Alongside all of this, Blake has enjoyed highly successful working relationships with singers. Among these, is Dominique Eade, whose presence at NRC was partly prompted by her eagerness to work with Blake. Although Eade’s career is much shorter than the pianist’s, she has gained a comparable reputation for her advanced approach to jazz. She has an engaging ability to prompt listeners to question established approaches to standards and thus to discover, often to the listener's surprise, thoroughly rewarding and hugely enjoyable variations on familiar themes. Here, Blake and Eade demonstrate their love for good music as they explore previously unexplored byways that are often barely hinted at in songs such as My Foolish Heart, Where Are You, The Thrill Is Gone and Dearly Beloved. Even a song from the end of the nineteenth century, After The Ball Is Over, is beautifully recreated; indeed, the duo succeed in turning it into a contemporary jazz classic. This late-2011 release is very well worth hearing.
A reputed broadcaster, bandleader and composer, John Robert Brown was for many years an educator at the Leeds College of Music. Currently, he is Chairman of the Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain. In addition to articles on jazz artists, John's site includes links to musicians, musical instrument manufacturers, music educators, magazines, authors and administrators.