The Arts Fuse review by Bill Marx

CF 264Ran Blake / Sara Serpa – Aurora (CF 264)
At the risk of moving into the competitive turf of The Fuse’s jazz critics, I would recommend for the holiday stocking of any music lover the hauntingly beautiful (and brave) album Aurora (Clean Feed), which features pianist Ran Blake and vocalist Sara Serpa. The pair’s second recording together is philosophical in temper—meditative, playful, sad, emotionally complex. The overall tone is of a kind of multi-layered melancholy that’s interrupted by unpredictable spurts of delight (check out the mischevous “Moonride”). Throughout the album, Serpa’s tone swings, on a psychological dime, from bright innocence to dark despair. The tunes are an eclectic gathering, including Blake compositions “Mahler Noir” and “Dr. Mabuse,” “The Band Played On,” and “Strange Fruit,” which Serpa takes on unaccompanied.

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