"Rob was one of the purest artists I had ever met. He lived for the music. His ability to pick up the changes to any tune almost instantly, and fit into any setting was uncanny. He had an ability to bring out the best in the musicians he worked with and ability to recognize what was good about each. He also respected the masters, and played with many of them. Ken Bleu Campbell is correct in categorizing Rob Block as one of the "New Millennium Jazz Lions." I eagerly await the arrival of "East St. Louis Jazz From the Vault" and "Jazz Clone Tones" to add to my Rob Block collection." - Stan Zompakos, Brooklyn, New York.
Rob Block is an extraordinary jazz guitarist, piano player, composer/ arranger, and educator. Rob has written, arranged, and performed extensively with Bassist Steve Kirby (Cyrus Chestnut), Two Time Grammy Nominee, Trumpeter, Flugelhorn, Composer Russell Gunn (Bradford and Winton Marsalis,), Tenor Saxophonist Gregory Tardy(Palmetto Records, Nicholas Payton, Mulgrew Miller, Elvin Jones), and was an adjunct Professor teaching jazz composition for 10 years at the nationally recognized jazz music department of Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri along side music professors and teachers Paul DeMarinis, Kim Portnoy, Dan Eubanks, and Dave Venn.
After musical training and associate music teaching in Los Angeles, in 1978 Rob joined his brother Dan Block, also a musician, and his mother who had moved to New York ten Years earlier from St. Louis. On the New York jazz loft scene in the late 1970's and early 80's Rob, played at some of the "heaviest" sessions, including the Lower East Side's Studio Oui, Ladies Fort, Harlem's Baby Grand, and University of the Streets Club.
One of the most interesting elements during the early 1980’s New York jazz scene was that the best musicians that migrated to New York played on the streets or in street bands. Street groups were the thing to do for "serious jazz musicians." Rob and other great jazz artist would quit their winter jobs to just play in street bands during the summer months.
As "street jazz bands" became popular and widespread several "street band rivalries" developed and Rob Block performed with both The Marvin Blackmon and Arturo O’Farrill street band quartets on 59th and Broadway. Several world renowned musicians and now recognized Jazz lions in the jazz music industry participated regularly during these street sessions, including the Kevin Burrell Jazz street quartet, Clarence Sharpe, Arthur Rhames, Pablo Collogero, Jimmy Vess, Manny Durand, Larry Smith, George Praithe, Reggie Workman, Curly Walker, Joe Caplo, and Rick Hollander.
Rob also recorded two demo CD’s with trumpet virtuoso Winton Marsalis also during this period. The first demo was recorded before Winton became well known and had just graduated from the Julliard School of Music. The second demo was recorded a year later just as Winton began to be recognized internationally. Three original songs on those two demo sessions were written by Rob Block.
When the New York jazz loft scene was put out of business by the soaring rents of the 1980s, Rob moved to St. Louis. There he performed and recorded with Willie Akins, Richard "Groove" Holmes, and Charles Earland. He also toured as Charles Earland's guitarist after to his return to St. Louis. In between teaching and gigs, Rob also co-arranged the Steve Kirby Septets $10,000 first prize winning songs in the Hennessy Cognac Midwest Best Search contest in 1992, including the arrangement of Theolonius Monk’s melancholy classic Crepuscules.
Rob Block and his musical entourage of two-time Grammy-nominee Russell Gunn and 1995 Best New-New York Jazz Musician Awardee, Greg Tardy, together with other gem musicians, capitulates an outstanding, "raw," yet masterful interpretation of jazz and Latin jazz in this CD project entitled Jazz Clone Tones.
This project accurately expresses the versatility, depth of "jazz musicality," and composing talents of Rob Block. One of the new millennium Jazz Lions has arrived on the scene in a masterful, dynamic jazz music interpretation called Jazz Clone Tones. This Block compilation is sure to be listed as an appetizer or main course on the serendipitous jazz menu’s eternal buffet specials. Future projects by this musician are sure to be just as palatable.
Good Ground Records, East St. Louis, Illinois USA