American legendary pianist-composer-educator Ran Blake, 82 years old, first played with Danish Drummer Kresten Osgood, half his age, when he visited Copenhagen on October 2013. Three years later Osgood travelled to Boston, where Blake teaches in the New England Conservatory of Music for forty years now, and recorded with Blake «The Dorothy Wallace Suite», a heartfelt tribute to Dorothy Wallace who was a patron of the arts in Boston and played a vital part in Ran Blake’s art. Blake dedicated before few albums to Wallace – «Sonic Temple» (GM Recordings, 2001), «Camera Obscura» (Inner Circle Music, 2010) and «Whirlpool» (Jazz Project, 2011).
Blake is known for his innovative solo piano albums and seminal duets with female vocalists – Jeanne Lee, Sheila Jordan, Christine Correa, Sara Serpa and Dominique Eade, and his tributes to other great vocalists – Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn and Abbey Lincoln. The tribute to Vaughn – «Unmarked Van: A Tribute to Sarah Vaughan» (Soul note, 1997), is Blake’s only duo with a drummer, Italian Tiziano Tononi, before the recording with Osgood. Osgood is well-versed with the legacy of American jazz and have has collaborated before with many musicians from the other side of the Atlantic, among them pianist Paul Bley, sax players Sam Rivers, Oliver Lake and Denmark-based John Tchicai, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and trumpeter Steven Bernstein.
Osgood proves himself as a perfect match for Blake on this 17-songs suite, only 39-minutes long. Osgood hardly focuses on time-keeping but more often plays, even sings the strong melodic themes in a such an inventive way that deepens Blake’s concise, poetic compositions. The immediate, democratic interplay of Blake and Osgood never falls into conventional, rhythmic formats and always suggests fresh, colorful, playful and humorous ideas, full of wisdom but also emotional, as if the two have known and have played with each other for many years. Blake and Osgood solos – «Ran’s Account» and «Eileen’s Account», are masterful. Their interpretations of Thelonious Monk’s «Pannonica» and Duke Ellington’s «Mood Indigo» reinvent these classic standards into majestic mini-suites, and the touching, last song, «Never Can Say Goodbye (Dorothy)», concludes beautifully this fantastic duo.
Ran Blake (p), Kresten Osgood (dr)