Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dan Block Plays the Music of Duke Ellington

Reedman Dan Block is cool with me. His Plays the Music of Duke Ellington, From His World to Mine (Miles High 8612) is cool too. It's not just another Duke tribute. For this one Dan obviously spent some time with the song list. It's not the well-worn blockbusters on display here, but instead some of the relatively under-recorded gems like the WWII era "Kissing Bug," the New Orleans Suite movement "Second Line," the Bigard-not-canard "Are You Sticking?" (he wasn't) and eleven other goodies. They are all arranged skillfully for an intimate small-group setting (reeds, vibes, piano, guitar, bass, drums, etc., in a shifting configuration) and approached from a modern mainstream point of view.

And Dan gets a chance to shine on tenor, clarinet, alto, bass clarinet, even the basset horn.

It is a definite treat to hear this one. Block sounds great, the band swings, the compositions and arrangements are excellent. A kind of swing-bop nirvana, a rare experience with today's confluence of styles, is something that is very possible, though hard to find. You can experience it by listening to this engaging and hip Dan Block album. It's an excellent tip of the cap to Ellington's music and to Dan Block as well. Enjoy it.

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