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Sunday, September 23, 2012

CD Review: Dan Block - Duality.

Dan Block (ten/bar/clt/bs clt) and various duo partners.
(Review by Lance.)
A duo album is always going to be a challenge and this album is no exception, However, I'm pleased to report,  reedman Dan Block and his various co-pilots rise to the challenge and emerge triumphantly.
It's very much an introverted performance that is also profoundly moving.- no flash bang wallop behind a thousand notes here! Rather, the overall feel is one of beauty sometimes joyous, often melancholic.
Long Ago and Far Away with pianist Ted Rosenthal's sublime support gives a whole new feel to the Kern classic - Warne Marsh and Lennie spring to mind. Walter Donaldson's I'm Bringing You a Red Red Rose, a long, perhaps unjustly, forgotten pop song brings on bassist Lee Hudson to lay down some complementary lines behind the tenor solo. A Block original, Chorino for Dennis, brought the composer together with Paul Mayers. Block's clarinet and Mayers' Brazilian guitar gel nicely in a delightful little romp.
Catherine Russell takes the vocal on Tadd Dameron's If You Could See Me Now with Block weaving intricate tenor lines in and around the Christy cool vocal and, unlike the late Misty Miss Christy, the intonation is spot on!. Block describes his own composition Out of Touch as "Two fujitives bushwacking their way through the perilous chords." The other fugitive is National  Steel guitarist Matt Munistieri. With Block on an Albert System bass clarinet the feel is a cross 'twixt Hot Club and Country.
The Ellington/Blanton classic, Pitter, Panther, Patter is an intriguing mix of horns with Scott Robinson adding tenor, baritone and various clarinets to augment Blocks own armoury of horns. It works well.
Lyric Waltz features pianist Rosanno Sportiello in tandem with the Block clarinet - Goodman Trio minus Krupa is the verdict and it still swings!
In the Dark, an almost lost Bix composition, is an immensely  compelling piece. like the more well known In a Mist, there is a hint of Debussy. Mark Sherman's vibes adds colour to Block's tenor solo which, although contemporary, retains the spirit of the composer. Sherman, incidentally, owns the record company and most of the artists featured here can be heard as leaders in their own right. Check out the Miles High Records site. My Own Morning, a Julie Styne Tony award winning song from 1967 has pianist Rosenthal returning to explore the melodic and harmonic possibilties which they do effectively,
The Jazz Samba, inspired by the Bill Evans/Jim Hall version is enhanced by the guitar of Sol Rubin - Block digs deep on baritone before some contrapuntal lines take it out.
At last a drummer! Tim Horner joins forces with Hudson on bass and they combine to send Block off to (I'll) Build a Stairway to Paradise. On this tune he's a Master Builder even if he does admit he cheated by making this last track a trio number!
Dan Block: Duality Miles High Records.Available now.
Lance.

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