Lena Bloch

Lena Bloch

Instrument: Saxophone | Location: New York City

Tenor saxist and composer Lena Bloch has a gorgeously warm and mellifluous tone, sort of a mix between Lester Young and Warne Marsh, and she uses it to excellent effect.
—George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly

Updated: May 27, 2022

Born: January 31, 1962

“In jazz”, muses Lena Bloch, “many things come together that are thought of as opposites: mind and feeling, responsibility and abandonment, looseness and precision, improvisation and composition. I just love that.”

Lena’s love for jazz has taken her on a challenging and circuitous voyage.

Born in Moscow, Russia, Lena Bloch immigrated to Israel and moved to Europe in 1990, where she became a part of the European jazz scene (Germany and Holland) for 12 years, finally came to the United States, earning Master’s Degree in Composition and moved to Brooklyn, NY in 2008, where she quickly became a contributor to one of the most fertile and interesting jazz scenes of recent memory.

As a long-time disciple of Lee Konitz, Lena is an improviser, dedicated to spontaneity and precision. She has collaborated with former students of Lennie Tristano: Connie Crothers, Ted Brown, Harvey Diamond, Joe Solomon, Charles Sibirsky, as well as with younger players like herself, who are contributing to the development of the tradition of spontaneous improvising and open musical communication: Roberta Piket, Dan Tepfer, Brad Linde, Sarah Hughes and others.

During her first years in Brooklyn Lena was featured in the “Four Extraordinary Women In Jazz” workshop/performance (with Connie Crothers) and in the Lester Young 100’s Birthday Concert (with Ted Brown and Chris Byars, Smalls Jazz Club). She was a frontman in Vishnu Wood Quartet (2008-2014) and performed with this group at several festivals (with Vishnu Wood, James Weidman, Bertha Hope, Makaya MacCraven, R J Miller). Lena has been a part of Lady Got Chops festival (NY State) with groups led by Mala Waldron, Sumi Tonooka, Kim Clarke. Other musicians Lena has worked with, are Arturo O’Farrill, George Schuller, Putter Smith, Bill Wurtzel, Scott Wendholt and many others.

In 2014 Lena Bloch was invited as a soloist with New York Chamber Players Orchestra, performing the concerto for alto saxophone and orchestra by Eric Koenig at the Merkin Concert Hall. 5 years ago Lena’s own project came to life, when she met the nucleus of her recent quartet: bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Billy Mintz, both stellar musicians with tremendous experience and deep understanding of music. With these colleagues and a very talented young guitarist from Chicago, Dave Miller, Lena recorded her first album as a leader. The album “Feathery” was top-rated in Downbeat Magazine, Pop Culture Classics, Jazz Inside Magazine, New York City Jazz Record, France Musique, Canadian Audiophile, Music Charts Magazine – and was voted the best debut release of 2014 by Dan Morgenstern, as well as one of the top 10 Jazz Albums 2014 (Just Jazz, USA) and top 50 Jazz Albums 2014 (JazzLinks, Austria-Germany).

After Miller’s departure from NYC, Lena’s quartet took a different turn, when in 2014 pianist and composer Russ Lossing joined the group. Lena Bloch Quartet, called Feathery, has been performing regularly since then, presenting original music, written by Lena and Russ. The quartet has performed in various New York City and Brooklyn concert spaces and jazz clubs, has released its album “Heart Knows” in 2017 (Fresh Sound Records) and was selected to perform at the showcase for the 40th National Chamber Music Conference in NYC (2018). More to come…

Lena’s inspirations and interests come from her musical experience and study with masters. She studied with Yusef Lateef in Massachusetts, Kaveh Dalir-Azar from Iran in Germany, David Liebman in his European workshops, Dave Holland and Joe Lovano in Banff Canada, and, most notably, with Lee Konitz, whom she met in 2001 in Cologne. She acquired her Artist Diploma from Cologne Conservatory (Germany), where her teachers were Keith Copeland and John Marshall, with whom she also performed with her quartet. In Europe Lena Bloch has met and performed with fabulous jazz musicians and masters, such as Mal Waldron, Johnny Griffin, Horace Parlan, Alvin Queen, Jurai Stanik. In 2000-2002 she was the saxophonist and composer with the legendary jazz percussionist Steve Reid (album “Live In Europe”, Mustevic Records, 2000), along with Boris Netsvetaev and Chris Lachotta.

In 2003, graduate school followed – Master’s Degree in Composition and teaching assistantship at the University of Massachusetts Amherst – study with Salvatore Macchia and Jeff Holmes. She played the first tenor chair in the Jazz Ensemble and got a “Downbeat Student Award” 2005 and MENC Award 2004 in Minneapolis.

With her unique cultural background, Lena is working in a “singular manner” (as Mark Keresman of NYC Jazz Record puts it), towards an original style and very personal expression. Her inspirations range from Eastern European and Middle Eastern tradition to 20th-21st Century and Western classical music.

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"Lena's unique selling point is that she has managed to unite an instrumental voice and a compositional voice into a single means of expression. Normally, this is another form of exile, the distance between the emotions and thoughts one has, and the ability to express them. But Lena, to abandon formality, has abolished that distance. It is music about life, a continuous suite of dances and narratives, the voice of someone telling her and their story, arrestingly and thoughtfully". - Brian Morton, "Rose Of Lifta" liner notes (to be released)

“…unwaveringly cohesive…bone-deep gorgeousness…complex, compelling and beautiful, sounds of the highest quality and inspiration laid down by a premier jazz quartet.”—Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

“The stunning thing about every performance here is the delicate blend of composed music and spontaneous invention.” — Donald Elfman, NYC Jazz Record

“Not a single note is ever wasted

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Primary Instrument

Saxophone

Location

New York City

Willing to teach

Beginner to advanced

Credentials/Background

Lena teaches:

  • 1. Saxophone, flute, clarinet - all levels
  • 2. Theory and harmony
  • 3. Improvisation - jazz, klezmer, popular
  • 4. Ensemble coaching
  • 5. Jazz composition and arranging

SELECTED METHODS AND BOOKS USED:

  • 1. Klose "25 Daily exercises for saxophone"
  • 2. David Liebman “Developing A Personal Sound”
  • 3. Sigurd Rascher "158 Exercises"
  • 4. Yusef Lateef “Repository Of Scales And Melodic Patterns”
  • 5. Sigurd Rascher “Top Tones For The Saxophone”
  • 6. Studies and Melodious Etudes for Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Levels I, II, III
  • 7. Rubank Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced Methods and Duet books
  • 8. Das Saxophonbuch by Klaus Dapper, Vol I and II

SELECTED TEACHING EXPERIENCE:

  • 1. 26 years of private and schools teaching in Europe and United States (Amherst MA, Westchester NY, Long Island NY, Brooklyn NY)
  • 2. State Music Schools in Germany (1999-2003) - middle and high school students, adults
  • 3. Teaching Assistantship at the University Of Massachusetts, Amherst, Department of Music (2003-2005)
  • 4. Teaching assistant at the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance, Jerusalem, Israel (1990)
Lessons in studio or online (Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts). Travel to your home is possible. Rates $60/hour, $50/45-min, $40/30-min, $20 max. travel surcharge (depends on time and transportation required).

Clinic/Workshop Information

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Lee Konitz
saxophone, alto
Yusef Lateef
woodwinds
Charles Lloyd
saxophone
Warne Marsh
saxophone, tenor

Links

Promise of Return

From: Rose Of Lifta
By Lena Bloch

Heart Knows

From: Heart Knows
By Lena Bloch

Three Treasures (Russ Lossing)

From: Heart Knows
By Lena Bloch

Lateef Suite

From: Heart Knows
By Lena Bloch

Newfoundsong

From: Heart Knows
By Lena Bloch

Marshmallow (Warne Marsh)

From: Feathery
By Lena Bloch

Starry-Eyed

From: Feathery
By Lena Bloch

Marshmallow

From: Feathery
By Lena Bloch

Lena Bloch Albums