Ran Blake / Christine Correa - Streaming

Label: Red Piano Records, 2018

Personnel: Ran Blake: piano; Christine Correa: voice.

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Idiosyncratic veteran pianist Ran Blake is not only known for enjoying the freedom of playing alone but also for his fruitful collaborations with legitimate female singers such as Jeanne Lee, Dominique Eade, Sara Serpa, and Christine Correa. It is the latter who joins him on Streaming, an avant-garde album of mostly non-original Third Stream repertoire where piano and voice intersect in a privileged communication.

Blake exerts mordant clusters on Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Explain”, which takes the shape of a mysterious dream through spacious piano phrases and a hushed vocal candor. It’s a strong opening by the duo, whose tactile contingencies are increasingly pronounced on Ornette Coleman’s classic, “Lonely Woman”. Correa starts alone with a powerful Africa-inspired chant, followed by the rubato roams of the pianist. The transformation of the piece - dusky, erratic, deeply atmospheric - deserves admiration.

Without diverging too much from the jazz standard format, but offering plenty new things to be discovered, “Out Of This World” and “Bebopper” feel very accessible. The former is intuitively textured, allowing enough room to Correa’s remarkably controlled voice; the latter, swinging resolutely in an inexplicit way, has the pianist quoting the first notes of “Lullaby of Birdland” in his solo.

Unaccompanied, Blake presents three short variations on George Russell’s “Stratusphunk”, while Correa also claims a solo moment on “Wende”, probably Blake’s most known original.

Not without surprising us with a two-note piano pedal sustaining the expansive vocalization on “Ah, El Novio No Quere Dinero”, a lusty if static traditional Shephardic song, the duo closes out the album with “No More”, another composition intimately connected to Billie Holiday.

Blake, an unmatched genius in the art of deconstructing the obvious with trancelike dissonance, has in Correa a great accomplice in another work of inspired improvisational spontaneity.

 Grade  B

Grade B

Favorite Tracks:
02 - Out Of This World ► 03 - Lonely Woman ► 04 – Stratusphunk I