Ran Blake

Biographical information

Third Stream pianist Ran Blake has recorded more than 30 albums and performed in major jazz festivals, concert halls, jazz clubs, and universities throughout Europe and the Americas. He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, in addition to fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation. His premiere recording, The Newest Sound Around, won the 1963 RCA Album First Prize in Germany and the 1980 Prix Billie Holiday and is included in the Académie du Jazz.

Blake was the founding chair of NEC's Contemporary Improvisation department (then called Third Stream), from 1974 through 2005, and continues to teach full-time. His innovative teaching approach, known as "the primacy of the ear," emphasizes the listening process and long-term memory rather than sheet music. Blake, who frequently incorporates melodies inspired by dreams and film noir into his compositions, continues to perform and record.

Recent releases include Indian Winter (a 2005 album with guitarist/NEC alumnus David Fabris) and All That Is Tied (a 2006 album of solo piano that appeared on numerous jazz publications' year-end "Best of" lists, including The Village Voice and Downbeat magazine.

B.A., Bard College. Studies at School of Jazz, Lenox, Mass., Columbia University. Composition and improvisation with Ray Cassarino, Oscar Peterson, Willis Laurence James, William Russo, Gunther Schuller, Mal Waldron, Mary Lou Williams, Kate Wolff. Recordings on Soul Note, Owl, Horo, Crest, RCA, Arista.

Physical description

The Ran Blake Papers consist of approximately twelve record cartons


This collection was given to the NEC Archives in several installments during the years 2007-2008.


In process.  Inventory available.


Access to the Ran Blake Papers is arranged by making an appointment with the NEC Archivist.  There may be restrictions pertaining to this collection.


Please contact the NEC Archivist regarding copyright restrictions and publication permissions. Citation should read: NECA 19.3. Ran Blake Papers, New England Conservatory Archives, Boston, MA.


The Ran Blake Papers documents the performing and teaching careers of NEC faculty member Ran Blake for a period of approximately forty years.  The collection includes correspondence, publicity and reviews, writings and publications, concert programs, promotional materials, compositions and recording-related items, multi-media project materials, teaching materials, grant information, faculty files, student files, alumni files, subject files, and photographs. Online Exhibit