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Blake, Ran

jazz album mass bard

Blake, Ran, jazz pianist, composer; b. Springfield, Mass., April 20, 1935. He studied at Bard Coll. (B.A., 1960) and at Columbia Univ. (1960–2), where he attended classes in improvisation with William Russo; he also studied at the School of Jazz, Lenox, Mass., and with Oscar Peterson, Mai Waldron, and Mary Lou Williams. His most influential mentor was Gunther Schuller, who inculcated him in “third stream” music (1960–67); he also took straight jazz instruction at the Lenox School of Jazz. Blake teamed with singer Jeanne Lee at Bard in 1957, experimenting with duo improvisations. The 1961 duo album was the recording debut for each of them and won the 1963 RCA Album First Prize in Germany and the 1980 Prix Billie Holiday and is included in the Académie du Jazz. He is well known as an educator, having started out as a protégé of Gunther Schuller at New England Cons, and working his way up to director since 1973 of the Third Stream Department, a category which involves incorporation of world music into free improvisations and an emphasis on ear training and transcribing solos by ear. He primarily records and performs solo, with occasional guests. He was voted #2 in the 1985 Down Beat International Critics Poll, and has performed at festivals throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, South America, and Mexico. He received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, and the NEA. He won a MacArthur “genius” grant in 1988. He is a unique solo pianist who does not work with standard jazz rhythm sections but prefers to explore striking harmonies and sonorities alone or in duets.

Blake, Rockwell (Robert) [next] [back] Blake, Eubie (actually, James Hubert)

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