Friday, November 29, 2013

Ran Blake Plays Solo Piano, 1965, ESP Anniversary Reissue

Other than an excellent album Ran Blake made with Jeanne Lee in 1962 which disappeared rapidly, Ran Blake Plays Solo Piano (ESP 1011) was his first. It was still around on LP by the time I had heard of him so I grabbed a copy and got my first taste of his very own way of playing.

It has been remastered to mark ESP Records 50th Anniversary, which is an excellent thing because the album is historically and otherwise important and it has been very scarce over the years. The sound overall is very good with the exception of a few fortissimo chords that were recorded a bit too hot.

Otherwise you get all the unusual features of Ran Blake's pianism--the outside pan-historical approach to improvised piano, the radical reharmonizations and revoicings of standards like Russell's "Stratusphunk", "On Green Dolphin Street", "Good Mornin' Heartache", and Ornette's "Lonely Woman". And there are four Blake originals, very much worth hearing.

Blake by now is well-known and well-recorded. Back in 1965 he was virtually unknown but already well into the post-Monkish out style that has marked him over these many years as 100% original. The album is absolutely indispensable for anyone who wants to follow the original "New Thing" as it unfolded then. Plus it is an excellent record in its own right. I am very glad to have it once again!

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