Stevie Wonder referred to him as "the king of all"him, being Duke Ellington, a master bandleader from the golden era of big band jazz. Dan Block pays tribute to Sir Duke with From His World to Mine.
Block is a saxophonist, clarinetist and composer who has associated with such artists as Clark Terry, Linda Ronstadt, Michael Feinstein and Rosemary Clooney. He has appeared numerous times on television's A Prairie Home Companion and has been heard on commercials and numerous motion picture soundtracks, including Martin Scorsese's The Aviator (2004) and Denzel Washington's The Great Debaters (2007).
The set begins with a lively take on "Kissing Bug." With Block leading the way on tenor, the band is tight as a unit, but the individuals also shine. Pianist Mike Kanan performs a leisurely solo, followed by vibraphonist Mark Sherman, each is accompanied by guitarist James Chirillo, bassist Lee Hudson and drummer Brian Grice, who injects rim shots and tom rolls at key moments. Drums and percussion engage in a playful dialogue, setting up a return to the melody.
"Old King Dooji" features Block on clarinet, accompanied only by piano, bass and drums. Solos are by Kanan and Grice, the latter being a full-kit workout. The mood evokes visions of a jaunt through a major city in the 1930s that hints of risk.
Clarinet and vibes are featured on "Are You Stickin'?" After Block's solo introduction, percussionist Renato Thoms brings up the congas, and a call-and-response sequence with the band segues into the melody.
From His World To Mine features 14 songs by Ellington's band, recorded on three dates with four different combinations of musicians. This approach provides a wide array of sounds from the Ellington catalog.
Kissing Bug; New York City Blues; Old King Dooji; Morning Glory; Are You Stickin'?; The Beautiful Indians; Suburbanite; Ballad Medley (All Heart / Change My Ways); Portrait of Bert Williams; Mt Harrissa; Creole Blues; Cotton Club Stomp; Rocks in my Bed; Second Line.
Dan Block: clarinet, bass clarinet, Eb clarinet, Bb clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Mike Kanan: piano; Lee Hudson: bass; James Chirillo: guitar; Brian Grice: drums; Mark Sherman: vibes (1, 2, 5, 10, 14); Renato Thoms: percussion (1, 2, 5, 10, 14); Pat O'Leary: cello (6, 9, 13).