Dan Block: Solid Sideman
The Andrew Scott Quartet Meets Jon-Erik Kellso & Dan Block
Dan Block has worked in a variety of musical settings during his long career and has been a sideman in bands led by Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan and Toshiko Akiyoshi, currently working with Jerry Dodgion's Joy of Sax and the Sultans of Swing.
Guitarist Andrew Scott's guests on the 2008 session Nostalgia include Block (tenor sax and clarinet) and trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso, with his rhythm section of pianist Mark Eisenman, bassist Pat Collins and drummer Joel Haynes. The nine songs are mostly bop pieces based on the chord changes to familiar works. The sauntering treatment of Ben Webster's "Did You Call Her Today" (based upon Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone," itself was derived from "Rose Room") showcases Kellso's delicious muted horn and Block's full-bodied tenor. . There are also pieces now not often played, including a snappy treatment of Barney Kessel's intricate "Vicky's Dream" (see "All the Things You Are"), featuring Block's playful clarinet, and Gigi Gryce's driving "Salute to the Bandbox" (a thinly disguised "I'll Remember April"), with tight ensemble work and hot solos. Finally, Scott contributed the cool "Contrafact," inspired by "(Back Home Again in) Indiana," in which Block incorporates a bit of Pee Wee Russell-like dissonance into the foot-tapping chart.
Block, along with fellow multi-reed player Scott Robinson are founding members of Marty Grosz' Hot Winds, specializing in early jazz and swing; bassist Vince Giordano (also tuba and bass sax) and drummer Rob Garcia round out the band on The Classic Sessions, with trombonist Panic Slim (aka Jim Gicking) as a guest on a few songs. Aside from a swinging take of "Just One of Those Things," most of the songs have fallen into semi-obscurity, despite strong melodies.
There are two intriguing selections. Ellington's "Rent Party Blues" is arranged by Block with him altering between bass clarinet, B-flat clarinet and alto sax while Robinson triples on soprano and baritone saxophones and cornet. Fats Waller composed "Caught" but left no instruction as to tempo or setting, so Grosz arranged it as a drag in the style of Ellington's "The Mooche," with Block featured on alto and clarinet, Robinson on soprano and the leader taking a chorus on banjo. When Grosz isn't singing in his none-too-serious manner reminiscent of Waller, he tends to stay mostly in the background as an instrumentalist. This CD is a refreshing change from the all-too-common menu of standards and played-to-death warhorses that frequently make up dates focusing on early jazz.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Did You Call Her Today; Hot House; On A Misty Night; Vicky's Dream; Nostalgia; Junior's Soul; Quasimodo; Contrafact; Salute To The Bandbox.
Personnel: Dan Block: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Jon-Erik Kellso: trumpet; Andrew Scott: guitar; Mark Eisenman: piano; Pat Collins: bass; Joel Haynes: drums.
Hot Winds, The Classic Sessions
Tracks: Pardon Me Pretty Baby; Rent Party Blues; Just One of Those Things; I Must Have That Man; Maori; I Just Couldn´t Take It Baby; Wabash Blues; Under a Blanket of Blue; My Blackbirds are Bluebirds Now; Caught; Love and Kisses; Riverside Blues; The Panic Is On; When Buddha Smiles; I Gotta Get Up and Go to Work.
Personnel: Marty Grosz: acoustic guitar, banjo, vocals; Dan Block: clarinet, soprano sax, C-melody sax, baritone sax, cornet, echo cornet, alto horn; Vince Giordano: string bass, tuba, bass sax, vocal; Rob Garcia: drums, glockenspiel; Panic Slim: trombone.