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Jon Block

Composer, improvising pianist, occassional reviewer "Ancient Victories Folk and Jazz Review." Live in Sausalito, CA.

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About Me

My Jazz Story

The first time I consciously listened to what promoters call "jazz" (and I call Great African-American Music) was at age 12. I played classical piano and one night my father brought home a Verve record called "More of the Greatest Piano of Them All"—which, of course, was Art Tatum. He put the record on his mono player—a really excellent stone ground turntable with a Marantz 2A 40 Watt amp driving the AR -1U speakers. Out came music such as I had never heard before. How did he do it? It sounded like two people playing. I could not visualize the hand span that would make such playing possible—right hand descending runs where it sounded as if he dragged his thumb beneath his fingers. My first thought was: quit now. You will never achieve this level of perfection. Not mere the "technics" of Tatum's playing, but the fluidity of his harmonies, his instant embroideries on the melodies. But I did not quit. Instead I began to listen to all the stations— usually late at night—playing this music they all called "jazz." Moreover, I was hooked and soon was lucky enough, living as I did in the NYC area, to hear live performances great musicians. Byard, Flanagan, Hill, Mingus, Monk, Jarrett, Hancock, Tyner—even Coltrane standing for a while on the steps going down to the Vanguard.

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