Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dan Block: Duality

 Duo specials. 
Dan Block had the audacity to record one of the most basic elements in improvisation: the duet 
 Hans Koert

It must be one of the most basic forms of improvising – just two musicians playing together: call and respond ..... one of the most basic elements of jazz, born a century ago ...... Dan Block had the audacity to record almost a dozen duets ......  
The Oude Stijl Jazzfestival in Breda, one of the leading traditional jazz festivals in The Netherlands during the 1980s, started to schedule a series of concert in its program, entitled: Duo Specials -  it became one of the most popular (and exciting) parts of the festival. Dan Block, reeds player, recently published a new album, entitled Duality, which should suit well at that festival .….

 Dan Block - Duality (Miles High Records MHR 8620 ) (Illustrations courtesy: Emma Block)

Dan Block raised in St. Louis, studied at the Juillard School, located at the  Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. He studied classical music, but became fascinated by jazz music.  
He started his career in one of Charles Mingus last recording groups. In January 1978 he is part of a band that records under the supervision of Charles Mingus, who was already incurable, suffering from ALS ( = Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and couldn’t play his bass any longer. Mingus passed away January 1979, 56 years old.

In March 1988 Dan was part of the Bill Warfield Big Band, which recorded for Interplay. One of the members of that band was Ted Rosenthall, who is Dan’s opponent in improvisation in the opening track Long Ago and Far Away.  Most of the musicians he invited for this album, are old friends, like bass player Lee Hudson, who was part of his combo's since the late 1990s.   The latter can be heard in I'm Bringing a Red Red Rose .... a Tin Pan Alley obscurity …. I’ve never been able to get out of my head, Dan says.

Track list

One of the tracks I love best is the Chorino for Dennis (with guitarist Paul Meyers), dedicated to Dennis Irwin, bass player, who passed away a couple of years ago (March 2008).  Dan and Irwin knew each other from recording sessions with David Bergers Sultans of Swing.

Love to introduce you to the music of Dan Block with a fragment of the tune It's Allright With Me, featuring Scott Robinson (this tune is not on the album)

Dan is a jazz musician that suits in both the traditional as in the mainstream styles. He has won his spurs in bands like Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks or the bands of Marty Grosz or Marc Shane, who play in the traditional styles, but also with musicians like Toshiko Akioshi, Frank Wess and was a member of Wynton Marsalis’ Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra too.
 Catherine Russell (photo courtesy: Hans Koert)

Catherine Russell, the US vocalist, popular in this part of the world, joins Dan in the Tadd Dameron ballad  If You Could See Me Now. Lately she has been awarded in France for her album Strictly Romancin’ with the Vocal Album of The Year 2012 (Le Prix du Jazz Vocal 2012) by the French Jazz Academy (l'Academie du Jazz) and in New York City she received an award as  Outstanding Jazz Performer. Congratulations Catherine - I really like your music - you deserve it!

Mark Sherman (source:

It’s hard to make a choice what duos I like best ….. Long Ago and Far Away is great, as is the Pitter Panther Patter by Dan Block and Scott Robinson, due to the fact that the sound of the baritone always fascinates me. Also the duet with Mark Sherman in In The Dark and the Jazz Samba inspired by the Bill Evans-Jim Hall duet, as recorded originally in May 1966 for Verve, are great.( featuring bass player Saul Rubin)

This album can be ordered at Miles High Records or at Dan Blocks site.

Hans Koert
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It must be one of the most pure ways to improvise: the duet. Call and respond are the basic elements of jazz music, born a century ago ..... Dan Block had the audacity to make such an album, entitled Duality - almost a dozen duo-specials, featuring Dan Block in duet with pianist Ted Rosenthall, guitar player Paul Meyers, awards winning vocalist Catherine Russell, baritone saxophone player Scott Robinson, vibist Mark Sherman and a handfull of others ..... Dan Block: Duality

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