Joe Block is a pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader. He is classically trained, and began playing piano at the age of two before switching to jazz in middle school. While growing up in Philadelphia, a city with a rich jazz history, he was able to learn and study from musicians on the scene and from jazz education programs at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, the Kimmel Center, and Temple University. Joe currently resides in New York City where he attends both the Juilliard School and Columbia University as part of a highly selective and vigorous exchange program. He studies with Frank Kimbrough and Bruce Barth.
Joe has worked and played with a list of many esteemed artists including Wynton Marsalis, Jaleel Shaw, Terell Stafford, Joe Farnsworth, Tim Warfield, Hannibal Lokumbe, Don Sickler, and Byron Landham. He is an active bandleader and sideman in Philadelphia and New York and has performed at venues including Chris’ Jazz Café, South Jazz Parlor, @exuberance, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia Clef Club, Dizzy’s Club-Cola, Birdland, Smalls Jazz Club, Smoke Jazz Club, Bar Next Door, Symphony Space, Alice Tully Hall, and Shapeshifter Lab. 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 trio and quintet, 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). 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 addition to performing, Joe is an avid composer and arranger. 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, 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. He applies similar large ensemble compositional techniques when he is writing for his quintet.
While Joe is a progressive thinker and musician, he is very much rooted in the tradition of jazz. His piano influences include Herbie Hancock, Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson, McCoy Tyner, Teddy Wilson, and Bill Evans. He teaches private lessons in piano and arranging. Contact him if you are interested.