CD review: Ran Blake/Christine Correa, ‘The Road Keeps Winding’

(Courtesy of CD Baby)

Ran Blake/Christine Correa

The Road Keeps Winding

This is the second volume of duo performances by pianist, composer, and longtime New England Conservatory professor Ran Blake and singer Christine Correa dedicated to Abbey Lincoln (1930-2010), a singer, songwriter, and actress. Some of Lincoln’s most memorable recordings were made with her husband, Max Roach, particularly “Freedom Now Suite” (1960). “The Road Keeps Winding” includes one song from that album, “Driva Man,” and its extremes inform the 11 other tracks: proud, vulnerable, often operatic in scale of expression. Correa’s temperament suits the material; she holds nothing back, from growling whispers to high-flying shouts. Blake shadows her with richly colored chords and etched lines, the rhythms as incisive as the harmonies, from the stabbed-out single-note melody of R.B. Lynch’s “When Autumn Sings” to the gossamer figures that conjure the breeze of that song’s lyrics. (There are also two Blake solo takes on Lincoln’s “Throw It Away.”) Each piece is an exceptional musical drama, whether the bitter-sarcastic cabaret number “The Heel,” Lynch’s noir-like “Love Lament,” or “Driva Man,” with its work-song defiance. Musical narrative gets no more compelling than this — a gift from Blake in the week of his 80th birthday, April 20. (Out now) Jon Garelick

ESSENTIAL "When Autumn Sings"

Jon Garelick can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jgarelick.