Advertisement
Advertisement

JJ 06/80: Ran Blake & Jeanne Lee – The Newest Sound Around

A review by Max Harrison, first published in Jazz Journal June 1980

This appeared on American RCA almost 20 years ago and scarcely anyone except Gunther Schuller and me took any notice. Not that this stopped either artist from being very attractive since, of course, and Blake in particular has made several solo records.

What he and Miss Lee offer here is a series in which they identify with a wide range of material. Miss Lee alters familiar melodies such as Laura to striking effect, sometimes adding passages of wordless vocalise that are most telling in Summertime. Blake uses a far wider diversity of harmonic resource than is usually associated with such music, as his Evil Blues solo will quickly show. And compare the published harmonisation of Loverman with what happens here.

Advertisement

His accompaniments are full of the unexpected, and Flamingoes Fly achieves a particularly sensitive integration of voice with piano. This, like Summertime and their ethereal account of Loverman, shows that they respond best to a strong melody – one able to carry their elaborations.

This is not to suggest that their work is merely decorative, for most of these themes are significantly recast. Evil Blues, for example, presents a fresh and oblique reading of a very familiar idiom, and is a more successfully extroverted performance than the displeasingly arch Season. Of course, there are echoes of many other musics besides jazz and blues here.
Max Harrison

Discography
Laura; Blue Monk; Church On Wooster Street; Where Flamingoes Fly; Season In The Sun (19.40) – Summertime; Loverman; Evil Blues; Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child; When Sunny Gets Blue; Love Isn’t Everything (20.22)
Jeanne Lee (v); Ran Blake (p). NYC, November/December 1961.
(RCA PL42863)

Latest audio reviews

Advertisement

More from this author

Advertisement

Jazz Journal articles by month

Advertisement

Count Basie: Basie on The Beatles

This was Count Basie’s second riffle through the Beatles songbook, the first, Basie’s Beatles Bag, having been released in 1966. Perhaps ironically, the only...
Advertisement

Obituary: Bill Smith

Clarinettist and composer Bill Smith, or William Overton Smith to give him his full name, was best known as a member of the octet...
Advertisement

Brothers in jazz

The Mills Brothers formed their singing group in Piqua, Ohio around 1925, at first naming themselves Four Boys and a Kazoo. They were real-life...
Advertisement

Jazz, Latin and Modern Collection

This publication is the companion volume to Tim Richards’s recent Blues, Boogie and Gospel Collection, and it’s a new collection of contemporary repertoire for...
Advertisement

Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things

“And then there is Ella, about whom critics have surprisingly little to say, other than to state that she is the ultimate jazz singer...
Advertisement

JJ 06/80: To Be Or Not To Bop – Memoirs, Dizzy Gillespie

After reading this book anyone might be excused for dismissing Gillespie as a foul-mouthed megalomaniac much given to personal violence against adversaries. Band leaders...