Dan Block is a New York City based musician, adept on both saxophone and clarinet. Although he was classically trained on clarinet at Juilliard (1980) his prime direction for the past three decades has been jazz (much like the amazing clarinetist Eddie Daniels who was at Juilliard a decade earlier).
Duality is an interesting, mostly duet album of catholic tastes and repertoire ranging from Gershwin to Shostakovich with loving nods toward Duke Ellington and Bix Beiderbecke. Several of the duets are for two melody instruments and one with vocalist, Catherine Russell. As such, ‘making your own harmony’ (as my flute teacher often discussed in lessons when playing solo or duet repertoire) is of prime importance. Otherwise, the distinct lines can sound meaningless, lost. Happily, most of the tracks offer partners more than willing to swing between solo and accompanist. It makes for inspired performances and very interesting listening.
Block has played every type of style as a jobber — film, TV, jingles, the gamut. Producer, too. This last feather usually ensures a good recording. And engineers Saul Rubin and Joe Davi have recorded a cracker. Every breath, vibration of the reeds, even the spittle (think Getz) is heard clearly. Piano, drums and vibes sound great (and real), too. This is one CD that audiophiles will bring to shows and meets — it’ll be ‘guess the CD/artist’, and everybody will smile and want a copy.
Block is a virtuoso on all his instruments (including bass clarinet) and his guests match him at every turn, save one. There are a lot of female jazz singers around. Some are good, many less so. Catherine Russell is in the latter column. Her track is ‘If You Could See Me Now’ which the liner notes suggest contains ‘pinpoint accuracy’. Hardly.
Other than one easily skipped track, Dan Block has released a gem of a jazz CD. Different, unique, elegant, with great sound all set in a lovely package.
Tracks: Long Ago And Far Away; I’m Bringing A Red Red Rose; Chorino For Dennis; If You Could See Me Now; Out Of Touch; Pitter Panther Patter; Lyric Waltz; In The Dark; My Own Morning; The Jazz Samba; I’ll Build A Stairway To Paradise.
Personnel: Dan Block: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone; Ted Rosenthall: piano; Lee Hudson: bass; Paul Meyers: guitar; Catherine Russell: vocals; Matt Munisteri: national steel guitar; Scott Robinson: tenor & baritone saxophones, clarinets; Rosanno Sportiello: piano; Mark Sherman: vibraphone; Saul Rubin: guitar; Tim Horner: drums.
Miles High Records
Playing time: 51:39