Daily Archives: June 15, 2015

THE COMFORT OF SWING: ROB ADKINS, DAN BLOCK, DALTON RIDENHOUR at CASA MEZCAL, APRIL 12, 2015 (Part Two)

About two months ago, I had the great honor of recording a delightful swing session at Casa Mezcal (86 Orchard Street, New York City) featuring Rob Adkins, string bass; Dalton Ridenhour, piano; Dan Block, clarinet and tenor saxophone.  This wasn’t a working trio, but they quickly showed their deep intuitive rapport, their lyricism and swing. Here is the first part of their session.

And ten more beauties. (I could have made two blogposts of this, but I felt that we all needed a deep immersion in this life-affirming music.)

YOU TOOK ADVANTAGE OF ME:

BODY AND SOUL:

SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY:

I’M CRAZY ‘BOUT MY BABY:

BLUE RIVER:

BROADWAY:

LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME:

SWEET SUE:

TANGERINE:

BEALE STREET BLUES:

Here’s what I wrote about the players: I believe it bears repeating.  I’ve been admiring and following Dan Block for over a decade now: his music is a bright light in a sometimes murky world, always surprising but in its own way a deeply kind phenomenon. When he puts any horn to his lips, what comes out is intense yet playful: I’ve been moved to tears and have had to stifle laughter — the best kind — listening to his music.

Rob Adkins is terribly modest and gently low-key, but he reminds me — without saying a word — of Milt Hinton’s axiom that the bass was the foundation of the band. Harmonically, rhythmically, emotionally, morally. He knows and loves his instrument, and he plays for the comfort of the ensemble, never egotistically — although he is proud to swing and he is always ready to be lyrical. And as you can see and hear here, he is a great catalyst.

Dalton Ridenhour gets a few more words. Because the Music Business — as distinguished from the music — encourages non-musicians to make people into commodities, into products, I first encountered Dalton as “a ragtime pianist” and a “stride pianist.” These little boxes are accurate: he can play superbly in both idioms. But when I actually heard Dalton — both words need emphasis here — I understood that his musical soul was much more expansive than the careful reproduction of one idiom. He’s a free bird, someone whose imagination moves through decades and idioms with grace. You’ll hear his brave light-heartedness through this session (I also had wonderful opportunities to hear him at the Atlanta Jazz Party this year: more about that in time) — he makes music, something that is very rare and very endearing. So far, he has only one solo CD, but ECCENTRICITY on Rivermont Records (2o12) is a constant delight. I urge you to “check it out,” as they used to say on Eighth Avenue in New York City in the Seventies, and you will hear that Dalton has all the accuracy and sparkle of the Master, Dick Hyman, with his own very personal warmth.

Such music — casually expert, light-hearted yet deep — is rare.  I feel grateful that I am in the same time and place as these masters.

May your happiness increase!

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