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  1. Ran Blake - Ghost Tones

    I know we have some Ran fans here and wanted to pull your coat to his new cd, Ghost Tones. It's finally out and available through and -- and it is special. In addition to a bunch of George Russell compositions, Ran does a few standards associated with GR and a handful of original tribute compositions. In itself, this is nothing new, Ran recorded "Stratusphunk" on ESP 50 years ago. What is much rarer is this instrumentation and ensemble variety: solo, duo, strings, electronics. And like all of Ran's music, it's cinematic, it tells a story. And the production (done in NEC's Jordan Hall) has that rich, big-room feel that seems so scarce these days. Ran's extensive liner notes about his close relationship with GR, some of their escapades, and their musical connection are not to be missed -- and seeing the signatures of Monk, Eric Dolphy, Ornette, and Bill Evans right next to each other (among a other luminaries) sends a chill down the spine. George's widow, Alice, was also closely involved in the project too. I had posted a few months back when I first heard a rough mix of Ghost Tones and after listening to it now dozens and dozens of times now it still blows me away. If you know Ran's music or Russell's, it really is de rigueur. If you're new to Ran and curious, this is an entertaining outlier to plunge into -- no toe dipping here. There really are no easy "similars" but I would say if you like Monk, Paul Bley, John Lewis, Ornette -- while cautioning he's really nothing like any of them -- modern music or abstract art of any stripe, don't deny yourself this unique pleasure.