Cocktails At Dusk: A Noir Tribute To Chris Connor Ran Blake
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- 1Ten Cents A Dance05:00
- 2All About Ronnie05:11
- 3Fine And Dandy02:44
- 4Why can't I04:05
- 5Where Are You?04:54
- 6I Get A Kick Out Of You04:21
- 7Moon Ride02:31
- 8Go 'Way From My Window03:25
- 9Almost Like Being In Love02:10
- 10Hallelujah I Love Her So02:23
- 11Speak Low03:03
- 12Anything Goes03:07
Info zu Cocktails At Dusk: A Noir Tribute To Chris Connor
What constitutes the Chris Connor style? After 60 years of listening to Chris Connor-- starting with the incredible Bill Russo arrangement “All About Ronnie” (1953), I still ask myself this question. I believe it is the tone of her voice, her sense of dynamics, her rhythmical concept in phrasing and accent, and most of all three qualities which I consider of paramount importance: her intensity, or use of silence, and her ability to surprise.
Perhaps the real greatness and originality of Chris Connor lies in the first quality mentioned: her extraordinary intensity. This intensity would often spring directly from her manipulations of rhythm and through her breath control, which was her greatest technical asset. She was able to extend and carryover phrases that most other singers have to break up. She could hold onto a note or a phrase, filling it with her tone for its whole rhythmic life. Chris would also double the tempo at dramatic moments, subdivide the beat in original ways, lag behind and urgently pull ahead. Chris’ personal approach to show tune lyrics was another of her many marvelous qualities. Many show tunes have trivial themes and inane lyrics, but when Chris sang these songs she was absolutely as personal- and if you’ll excuse the word, “deep” - as Mingus, Bartok, Monk, Archie Shepp, Ben Webster, John Lewis, Elliott Carter, Otis Redding, or Gunther Schuller. You can hear anger, pathos, and great tenderness.
In a pop ballad, Chris’ voice would suddenly surge, and perhaps at the oddest moment when the audience would least expect- keeping them on the edge of their seats with Chris’ mercurial thrashes. “What will happen next?” This is immediately startling for its own sake, but what makes it even more fascinating is how this is jux- taposed within the piece, set, or evening as a whole.
Chris’ voice quite often is low and husky, but so are those of dozens of other singers. What particularly intrigues me is the way in which her vibrato is introduced just before the release of a sustained note. When speaking of Chris’ voice, we must also examine her use of dynamics and use of silence. Virtually no jazz singer of the 20th century used dynamics in such a thrilling and unpredictable manner.
Young people who have not been exposed to her are missing a kind of experience which the singers they are listening to, though they may have other virtues, don’t provide. It’s my hope that through this record dedicated to her that people will become more aware of her incredible contribution to jazz, and music as a whole. (Downbeat, May 28th 1970)
In a career that now spans five decades, pianist Ran Blake has created a unique niche in improvised music as an artist and educator. With a characteristic mix of spontaneous solos, modern classical tonalities, the great American blues and gospel traditions, and themes from classic Film Noir, Blake’s singular sound has earned a dedicated following all over the world. His dual musical legacy includes more than 40 albums on some of the world’s finest jazz labels, as well nearly 40 years as a groundbreaking educator at Boston’s New England Conservatory.
Blake first discovered the dark, image laden and complex character driven films that would so influence his music at age 12 when he first saw Robert Siodmak’s Spiral Staircase. “There were post World War II musical nuances that if occasionally banal and as clichéd as yesterday’s soap operas, were often so eerie, haunting and unforgettable,” Blake would later write. “After more than eighteen viewings during a period of twenty days, plots, scenes, and melodic and harmonic surfaces intermingled, obtruding into my day life as well as my dreams.”
Long before the invention of virtual reality, Blake began mentally placing himself inside the films and real life scenarios that inspired his original compositions like “Spiral Staircase”, “Memphis” and “The Short Life of Barbara Monk”. The influence of the Pentecostal church music he also discovered growing up in Suffield, Connecticut, combined with his musical immersion in what he terms “a Film Noir world,” laid the groundwork for his earliest musical style.
That early style would become codified when he and fellow Bard College student and vocalist Jeanne Lee became a duo in the late 1950’s. Their partnership would create the landmark cult favorite The Newest Sound Around (RCA) in 1962, introducing the world to both their unique talents and their revolutionary approach to jazz standards. This debut recording would also show the advancing synthesis of Blake’s diverse influences with its haunting version of David Raksin’s title track from the movie Laura and his original tribute to his first experience with gospel music, “The Church on Russell Street”.
The Newest Sound Around was initiated and informally supervised by the man that would be come Blake’s most significant mentor and champion, Gunther Schuller. The two began their forty-year friendship at a chance meeting at Atlantic Records’ New York studio in January 1959. Less than two years earlier, Schuller coined the term “Third Stream” at a lecture at Brandeis University. Schuller was recording on Atlantic—helping to define his term in musical practice—with future jazz giants like John Lewis, Bill Evans, Eric Dolphy, and Ornette Coleman. Ran Blake came to the label to accept what he calls “a low level position” that allowed him to be near the music of inspirations like Chris Connor, Ray Charles, and Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater. Blake’s long association with Schuller, modern classical music, and Schuller’s controversial term began here, and was forged by years of friendship, collaboration and innovation. Visit: www.ranblake.com