Dan Block is one of those musicians whom I admire deeply not only for what he creates, but for the expansiveness of his imagination. Whatever horn he picks up, whatever context he finds himself in, whether it’s Pollack or Shostakovich, Dan makes something new and resonant out of the familiar while blending wonderfully into the improvising family around him.
Late in 2012, Dan created a rewarding CD called DUALITY — one of those discs I return to often and delight in. I wrote about it here.
It was another real delight to find Dan and friends at the 2013 Jazz at Chautauqua (now reborn as the most exciting Allegheny Jazz Party — do read about it!) inventing dualities on the stage in front of us. Here are a few of those wondrous leaps into the air.
This duet with Rossano Sportiello explores a song from the 1967 Broadway musical, HALLELUJAH, BABY — a song forever associated with the young Leslie Uggams, MY OWN MORNING:
With Howard Alden, Dan offers his own CHORINO FOR DENNIS, a loving remembrance of the late bassist Dennis Irwin:
With Jon Burr, Dan goes back into the Twenties for the pop song I’M BRINGING A RED, RED ROSE:
And a little early Gershwin, played by Dan, Rossano, Jon, and Pete Siers — I’LL BUILD A STAIRWAY TO PARADISE:
In his inventiveness, his on-the-spot willingness to reshape the familiar into new and pleasing shapes, Dan reminds me exactly of Ruby Braff, for whom a duet or a quartet was never quite a small fixed entity. DUALITY (the CD) and these videos are beautiful examples of brave, lovely musical investigation.
May your happiness increase!