Joe Block

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Joe has had the opportunity to work and play with many esteemed musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Kurt Rosenwinkel., Leslie Odom Jr., Steve Wilson, Peter Bernstein, Eric Harland, Ari Hoenig, Eric Alexander, Seamus Blake, Jaleel Shaw, Joe Farnsworth, Hannibal Lokumbe, Justin Faulkner, and The Captain Black Big Band. As an active bandleader and sideman in New York and Philadelphia, he has performed at numerous venues including Dizzy’s, The Django, Birdland, Smalls Jazz Club, 55 Bar, Smoke Jazz Club, Bar Next Door, Symphony Space, Alice Tully Hall, Shapeshifter Lab, Cafe Bohemia, Chris’ Jazz Café, South Jazz Parlor, @exuberance, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia Clef Club, Hilbert Circle Theatre (Indianapolis) and the Black Cat (San Francisco). He has also performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Belize Jazz Festival, Montclair Jazz Festival, Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, Next Generation Jazz Festival, and Telluride Jazz Festival. He leads his own quintet and trio, and is the co-leader and founder of the Philadelphia Ambassador Big Band.

Joe has been nationally recognized by the National Youngarts Foundation (2017, Jazz Piano finalist and Jazz Composition honorable mention), Jazz at Lincoln Center (2016, J. Douglas White Composition Award), the Telluride Jazz Festival (2018, Telluride Jazz All-Star), and the Monterey Jazz Festival (2019, Next Generation Jazz Festival 1st Place Finalist and Outstanding Soloist), and Jazz Aspen Snowmass (JAS Academy 2021). In December of 2018, he served as the musical director and pianist for Wynton Marsalis’ annual holiday fundraiser and performance at the NYC Brooks Brothers Flagship Store. In December of 2019, he played a weekend with the Kurt Rosenwinkel Quartet at Chris’ Jazz Café in Philadelphia. The following weekend, he was featured in the Ari Hoenig trio. He appears on the 2020 Grammy-nominated record “The Intangible Between” (Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band).

In addition to being an instrumentalist, Joe is an avid and skilled composer and arranger (ASCAP). Hailed by Jazz at Lincoln Center as one of "jazz's most promising young composers", he has been commissioned to write or arrange music for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (2019, 2020), the Philadelphia Ambassador Big Band, the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, the Wynton Marsalis Septet, and the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, for which he arranged part of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” in 2018.

Joe applies similar large ensemble compositional techniques when writing for his quintet, utilizing and capitalizing on the strengths and sounds of his band members to create something provocative, spiritual, and progressive. His willingness to take risks and explore new musical forms provides the foundation for his unique compositional voice. As a bandleader and composer, he strives for a high level of musical energy and artistic clarity, blurring the lines between past, present, and genre to deliver a sonic concept that is meaningful and provocative to listeners of any background. He draws from a wide variety of compositional influences ranging from Claude Debussy to Duke Ellington to Ambrose Akinmunsurie to Johnny Mandel to Keith Jarrett to Herbie Hancock.