Ran Blake and Film Noir

April 9, 2015 3:53 PM

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Ran Blake was over at our house for dinner a while back, and at the end of the evening he asked me to show part of any movie that I considered extraordinary. I chose something contemporary, Melancholia, directed by the strange, and often fascinating, Lars Von Trier and starring Kirsten Dunst and Kiefer Sutherland. I won't even try to describe the story ,but the movie contains, in its opening 10-minute sequence, some of the most beautiful and magical images ever created on film. It was this that I wanted to reveal to Ran, who didn't know the movie. I watched him absorb the scene, live in its moment of abandon and imagination. Those few minutes of observation allowed me to understand just how important film is to Ran, why he is so consumed by its power, and why it has been a continuing source of inspiration in his music-making.

An extraordinary improvising musician who styles himself a "noir pianist," Ran celebrates his 80th birthday on August 20 this year. He can look back, and indeed forward, at a life spent entirely in music as a performer and as an educator. His past and current students revere him and speak in the sam...

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