Ran Blake, 'Driftwoods'
Ran Blake Driftwoods
ESSENTIAL "Dancing in the Dark"
Next time you're up until quarter to 3 and looking for music to fit the hour, we suggest this set of film noir nocturnes for solo piano from Ran Blake. His previous piano recital, the acclaimed "All That Is Tied," focused on his own compositions. "Driftwoods" pays tribute to his favorite singers, from Billie Holiday and Chris Connor to Nat "King" Cole and Hank Williams. Blake is a stealth piano virtuoso, master of touch and timing, a flinty melodist who fills the spaces between the notes with lingering harmonics. His abiding influences include Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk, yet he's equally inspired by the movies of Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, and Otto Preminger. At the album's heart are two takes of the Arthur Schwartz/Howard Dietz standard "Dancing in the Dark," saluting Sarah Vaughan's definitive 1956 recording. In the shorter of the two, recorded first, the dance is a faded memory; the longer presents a montage of moods, the dance holding its own with the dark. Two tracks let the light win out for a while: Milton Nascimento's "Cancao da Sol" and the bluesy gospel number honoring Mahalia Jackson, "I'm Going to Tell God." But, deliciously, the darkness dominates these 13 tunes tossed and transformed in the ocean of Blake's musical imagination. (Out tomorrow)