John C. Graham | toronto, ontario Canada | 08/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great recording that should give Dan Block a healthy dose of favourable exposure. He and guitarist Chris Flory researched early to mid forties transitional music for close to five years before hitting the studios. The results are extraordinary.
The music comes from the time when it was leaving the dancehalls and ballrooms to move into coffeehouses and clubs. Dexter Gordon, Don Byas, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Coleman Hawkins and others contributed to the changes in the way the music was played. Countless nights of jamming and experimenting in clubs like Minton's and Kelly's Stables led to the distillation of the music that would be known as bop or bebop. It was an exciting and innovative period of musical development. "Almost Modern:The Swing to Bop Project" captures the essence of that period with all its hipness and Bohemian trimmings intact.
Block has assembled an unbelieveably great group of musicians for this recording. All of them contribute to the perfection of the finished product. Jon Kellso is on trumpet and can sound like Dizzy or Roy Eldridge at times. Larry Ham comps and solos beautifully. Lee Hudson walks the bass better than most. Chuck Riggs accents and "drops the bombs" like he's having the time of his life. Chris Flory chords nicely and plays searing single note runs. Dan Block is meaty and muscular on tenor while fleet and fluid on the clarinet. John Hart also contributes some scorching guitar lines on a single bebop standard.
As I stated earlier, this is an extraordinary cd in every way. These guys play the music with surprising freshness and a sense of fun, like they were on the bandstand in a club on 52nd street sixty to sixty-five years ago. The disc continues to astound with every play and for that reason it's one of the best jazz cd's I've heard in ages. Urgently recommended."