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Songs – with or without lyrics – being no less than stories, and the best songs of George (and frequently Ira) Gershwin being stories of the first order, any number of these exhilarating moments are to be heard on this disc, a result of the material (Gershwin’s) inspiring the imagination of the improviser, Ran Blake. Blake’s art is wholly a product of his acute attention (to the stories, images, and utterances of his imagination) and integrity (in the formal process of making music, spontaneously). Even with songs as familiar as Gershwin’s, so ingrained in our hearts and our history, we can be sur- prised by the possibilities of expression which Blake (and Ricky Ford, and Steve Lacy) offers us, precisely because of his rejection of the familiar, the literal, the expected, the commonly intended. So stark, evocative, and eloquent is his music that it does sometimes seem that what he is doing is giving shape to smoke in the air. — Art Lange