I don’t like jazz that much, and I know why. I have too much empathy, and I put myself in the guy’s shoes TRYING to make his thing, I feel bad.
So, I opened my book about Jazz, page 206, randomly, to find Ran Blake, born in 1935, pianist. Never heard about him. You?
I kept him because of some elements I read : he worked with female singers, he was said to make “singular covers”, he has been a music teacher in Boston, he’s influenced by gospel, Monk, Prokofiev, Messiean, movie musics.
So here it is : I use my own method of exploration, which is to YouTube randomly around his name.
His solo piano style is very unique, with nonsense any old things invading old standards for seconds (Epistrophy), delicate memories framing ice water on broken tooth picks, suspended chords, splendid high notes, wobblings.
Comfy cool jazz is like drunk, invaded with errors, shaken memories, blurriness (Round Midnight), it’s like a dream where fast vignettes of remembrances dance around…
“Let’s Stays Together” is just delicious – though at many times you want to say “Hey, be careful!”. Walking on a string…
( see also Epistrophy : Reflections )
With Rave (trumpet) or Lacy, he brings… insecurities in mellow jazz :
This sounds like a confused memory of something we know…
The delicious fragile modulating waltz beginning and ending :
Tools here :
- It’s interesting to listen to someone who disturbs my tastes and tests my limits. Sometimes I say : “NO! Come on!”. Sometimes it’s just perfect. My brain begins to focus more, to think, to search, to be afraid maybe. It’s an interesting process.
- I discovered great singers, like Sara Serpa (which lead me to the lakes of voices of Naka Nishina), or Jeanne Lee (incredible somber voice).
- I have pleasure in analyze. For example, Blake loves the extreme high notes of the piano, which is rare. And one of his “tricks”, when he supports a female singer or a trumpet player, is to let the other one stay steady, like a tree. The piano player is NOT the solid base, he’s the one which wanders, which drifts…
- I discovered a Genre : “Third Stream“, a synthesis of jazz and classical music. This is funny because the Wikipedia article lead me to this tool of defining something by what it is not :
It is not jazz with strings.
It is not jazz played on “classical” instruments.
It is not classical music played by jazz players.
It is not inserting a bit of Ravel or Schoenberg between bebop changes—nor the reverse.
It is not jazz in fugal form.
It is not a fugue played by jazz players.
It is not designed to do away with jazz or classical music; it is just another option amongst many for today’s creative musicians.
Have fun! Thanks for reading!