In a career that spans five decades, pianist/composer/educator RAN BLAKE has created a unique niche in improvised music as an artist and educator. With a characteristic mix of spontaneous solos, modern classical tonalities, the great American blues and gospel traditions, and themes from classic Film Noir, Blake's singular sound has earned a dedicated following all over the world. His dual musical legacy includes nearly 50 albums on some of the world's finest jazz labels, as well almost 50 years as a groundbreaking educator at Boston's New England Conservatory.
A recent Italian reviewer, Vincenzo Roggero, sums up Ran's merging of traditions and unique noir piano style: "Blake combines Max Roach with Edith Piaf, Duke Ellington with Stevie Wonder, Nino Rota with Yiddish music. All lit by his unique style influenced by the blues as the gospel, classical as jazz, but inimitable in combining these elements through touches almost imperceptible, silences full density, sparse but decisive cluster, lines dangerously poised between tonality and dissonance. It is music played on whispers, rather than shouts, but no less intense or penetrating."
Fellow MacArthur Grant recipient and Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz, Jason Moran, recently said, "It's this thunder-crack of sound that explodes from the instrument once he puts his hands on it. Ran's unlike anything else that exists. I hope musicians hear him and ask themselves, `Shouldn't we be taking more chances?'"
No doubt, Ran's music still sounds fresh and unmistakably unique. Nearly fifty years after his innovative release, The Newest Sound Around with vocalist Jeanne Lee (RCA-Victor), Ran continues to evolve his noir language on the piano, making him one of most resilient artists in jazz history.
Ran's most recent recordings are "Ghost Tones: Portraits of George Russell" (A-Side Records, 2015), "Live at the Kitano" w/Sara Serpa (Sunnyside, 2015), "Down Here Below, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Abbey Lincoln" w/Christine Correa (RedPiano, 2015), "Chabrol Noir: A Tribute to Claude Chabrol" w/Ricky Ford (impulse!, 2016), and Town and Country w/ Dominique Eade (Sunnyside, 2017).
Born 4 March 1954, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Ford started to play drums, then changed to tenor saxophone at the age of 15, inspired by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Ran Blake heard him playing in a Boston Club and persuaded him to study music at the New England Conservatory. (Blake later invited him to play on several albums too, including Rapport, Short Life Of Barbara Monk and That Certain Feeling). In 1974 Ford joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra under the leadership of Mercer Ellington and in 1976 he replaced George Adams in the Charles Mingus group, recording on Three Or Four Shades of Blue and Me Myself An Eye. In the late 70s and early 80s he played with Dannie Richmond, Mingus Dynasty, George Russell, Beaver Harris, Lionel Hampton and Adbullah Ibrahim's Ekaya group. However, following the release of his debut album in 1977 he has worked increasingly as a leader, often recording with Jimmy Cobb and ex-Ellington colleague James Spaulding. His latest releases also feature one of his New England Conservatory teachers, Jaki Byard. A strong, authoritative tenor player, Ford's fluency in most idioms of modern jazz has perhaps hindered the development of an individual voice. Ricky is from 2000 Professor at the Bilgi University in Istambul.