"I play in some very demanding situations and refuse to let sticky G# trip up my sound. Key Leaves keep my horns playing great."
-Ron Blake (Solo Artist / The Juilliard School / Saturday Night Live Band / Christian McBride Big Band)
Virgin Islands native Ron Blake currently resides in New York City. He has released four recordings as a leader; in addition, his discography numbers over 60 recordings as a guest and sideman. He is a member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live Band (2005) and is on faculty at the Juilliard School (2007).
Blake took up the saxophone at age 10 in St. Thomas public schools. He attended the National Music Camp (79-81) and graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy (80-82), later matriculating into Northwestern University (1986). After graduation from Northwestern, Blake worked extensively in the Chicago area before being appointed to the faculty of the University of South Florida in Tampa in 1990.
In 1992, Blake re-located to New York joining Roy Hargrove’s Quintet. In addition to his contemporaries, he’s worked with many masters including Art Farmer and Roy Haynes.
Blake’s debut recording Up Front and Personal with special guest Johnny Griffin was released came in 2000. He completed a Masters degree at NYU in 2010. His releases on Mack Avenue include Lest We Forget, SONIC TONIC, and Shayari, and he won a Grammy as a member of Christian McBride’s Big Band in 2011 for their release, The Good Feeling. In addition he has two Grammy nominations with Gerald Wilson Orchestra, New York, New Sound in 2011 & Yerba Buena, President Alien in 2005. Most recently, Blake won his 2nd Grammy in 2017, again with the Christian McBride Big Band (Bringin’ It) and received an Emmy (2016-17) for his contributions to Saturday Night Live as a member of the SNL Band.
Blake co-founded the 21st Century Band and the Tahmun record label with Dion Parson in 1998. Since then he’s continued to work as a performer and educator through his affiliation with the 21st Century Band, the VI United Jazz Foundation, and his appointment at the Juilliard School. His working relationship with bassist Christian McBride spans over 15 years, as a member of the Christian McBride Band and other projects. In 2017, Ron became the Artistic Director of the 21st Century Band Jazz Institute at Snow Pond in Sidney, Maine.
In January 2014, Blake received recognition from the U.S. Congress and the Virgin Islands Legislature for his commitment to education and his music accomplishments.