|Tags:||jazz piano jazz piano free jazz contemporary|
|Decades:||1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s|
20 April 1935, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA. Growing up in Springfield and later in Suffield, Connecticut, Blake began piano lessons at the age of four but was largely self-taught. A film buff from childhood, his interest in soundtracks led him to an appreciation of 20th-century European composers such as Bartok, Debussy and Prokofiev. A simultaneous love of gospel music was sparked by the records of Mahalia Jackson and, particularly, by his exposure to the choir at the local Church of God in Christ in Hartford, Connecticut. Blake studied at Bard College from 1956-60, devising his own jazz course there, and also began to work with singer Jeanne Lee - they recorded together in 1961 and toured Europe in 1963. Studies with Gunther Schuller, then a leading proponent of Third Stream Music, gave Blake the confidence to pursue his personal synthesis of African-American, European classical and various ethnic folk music. When Schuller became President of Bostons...