Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ran Blake - Ghost Tones

Ran Blake
Ghost Tones
a-side records
Available through CD Baby

Ran Blake - Piano, electric piano
Peter Kenagy - Trumpet
Aaron Hartley - Trombone
Doug Pet - Tenor saxophone
Eric Lane - Piano, electric piano
Jason Yeager - Piano
Ryan Dugre - Guitar
Dave "Knife" Fabris - Pedal steel guitar
Rachel Massey - Violin
Brad Barrett - Acoustic bass, electric bass
David Flaherty - Drums, tympani
Charles Burchell - Drums, tympani, vibraphone
Luke Moldof - Electronics

Ghost Tones is Ran Blake’s tribute to his former colleague at the New England Conservatory of Music, the late composer and theoretician George Russell. The album was originally slated to be released on HatOLOGY, but was rescued when that label went through some tough times and has been issued on a-side records.

The abstract cover of the CD shows a mottled, fuzzy image of Mr. Russell, and the music matches the visual perfectly. Ghost Tones features a mix of standards, Blake’s own songs, and radically reworked versions of Russell compositions such as Stratusphunk, Ezz-Thetic and a segment from Vertical Form. You’ve never heard You Are My Sunshine like this before, a funhouse ride through C&W, avant-garde and who knows what else.

The words I thought of when listening to Ghost Tones was “fever dream”. Through various solo, duo and group performances, a languid mood is sustained, mixed with Mr. Blake’s trademark Noir sensibilities. There are some subtle electronic touches that appear, and even though there are contributions from thirteen musicians sprinkled through the CD, a consistent tone and mood carries through all seventeen tracks. Ghost Tones plays as one continual piece, taking the listener through a time capsule of various aspects of Mr. Russell’s music and Mr. Blake’s signature conception.

The CD begins and ends with Ran alone, with two gorgeous versions of Autumn in New York, beautiful harmonies capturing the perfect fall day in the city with a touch of sentiment and regret.

Ghost Tones will take you to a Lonely Place, but it’s a place you’ll want to visit with Mr. Blake as your guide.

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