Saxophonist Ron Blake has been an integral part of the jazz scene since 1992, performing and recording worldwide. The Virgin Islands native has released four recordings as a leader and has appeared on more than 50 recordings as a sideman or special guest. Since his introduction to jazz, Blake began performing in the Chicago area under the guidance of luminaries like Von Freeman, Willie Pickens, and Wilbur Campbell, and appeared behind several jazz greats with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra. The list of Chicago musicians who contributed to his development is lengthy, but Blake credits his growth as a versatile musician to his primary teacher, Frederick Hemke, with whom he completed undergraduate studies in classical performance at Northwestern University in 1986.
Always interested in education, Blake often returned to the Virgin Islands to teach in summer music programs while in high school and college, and received his first appointment as a saxophone instructor at his alma mater, the Interlochen Arts Academy. Other appointments included the University of South Florida, Michigan State University, and NYU. He was appointed to the faculty at the Juilliard School in 2007. There he co-founded an educational outreach project, the 21st Century Band, a jazz band dedicated to instilling the high values of jazz performance through the rhythms of the Caribbean.
Blake is in his fifth season as a member of the Saturday Night Live band on NBC. He has performed internationally with the Juilliard Jazz Quintet and with numerous stellar musicians. In 2010, he completed his masterís degree in jazz studies from NYU.