Ran Blake was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1935. As a lad he became absorbed into the world of film noir, which would continue to inspire him as he gravitated to music. Gospel and classical music, especially Bela Bartok and Claude Debussy, were early inspirations. Blake went on to study under Gunther Schuller, Oscar Peterson, Mal Waldron, and Mary Lou Williams—in turn, Don Byron, Matthew Shipp, and John Medeski studied with Blake.

Blake’s debut album was the duo recording with singer Jeanne Lee, The Newest Sound Around, 1962—his first solo recital Plays Solo Piano was released in 1966 on the iconic ESP-Disk label. Since then, he’s recorded many solo albums and duets with instrumentalists diverse as Clifford Jordan, Anthony Braxton, and Enrico Rava, and singers Sara Serpa, Christine Correa, and Dominique Eade.

Blake is a faculty member at the New England Conservatory of Music and the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1988.