Ran Blake: Lost Highway


Lost Highway


Ran Blake (piano)


Driftwoods (Tompkins Square TSQ2097)

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Ran Blake (piano).

Composed by Leon Payne


Recorded: Brookline, MA


Rating: 91/100 (learn more)

Many years ago, I attended a concert by pianist George Winston. While the ornate hall was way too full of tweed outerwear and heavy-handed perfume, I must admit that I did enjoy Winston's playing. It gets tagged as New Age, which usually has the effect of instant dismissal, at least by the person doing the tagging. Yet Winston himself has called what he does "rural folk piano," which gets closer to the truth. There came a moment in his show that at first seemed out of place, with Winston playing a stride piano number, followed by a switch to the guitar for a Hawaiian slack-key tune. What amazed me was any connection at all between Winston's own music and the more rootsy music he also presented. Ah, but it was definitely there.

I feel exactly the same way when approaching Ran Blake's take on "Lost Highway." What would Mr. Blake, who so loves to deconstruct things, do with a fairly simple tune, one made famous by Hank Williams? Easy! Take the simple harmonic and melodic elements of the song and stretch them out to infinity. It's almost like the song has been drifting through space since the Big Bang, and Blake caught the material just when it passed through his life space. Yes, I suppose that explanation is more than a little New Agey. But pure beauty is sometimes difficult to describe.

Reviewer: Mark Saleski

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