"2 5 1" by Dan Dean with George Duke, Gil Goldstein,
Larry Goldings and Kenny Werner
(Origin Records 82557)
Dan Dean has a very, very impressive discography. He has played with such jazz greats as Diane Schuur, Ernie Watts, & Howard Roberts, pop artists Michael Tomlinson, Danny O'Keefe and Jay Roberts to say the least. Dean's awards for advertising music are quite impressive also. The Cannes Golden Lion, Addy Awards, Telly Awards, Clio Awards and the list goes on. Now for you beginning bass players, Dan is the author of the successful Hal Leonard Series for Electric Bass Methods Books. The doorbell rings……….It's the postman with a special package…………..
Dan's new CD in hand, I knew I was in for a treat, so the first thing I do is get a glass of something good, and listen to the disk. As I began to listen I was thinking, " Man, how I am I supposed to write something with this CD being ALMOST perfect?". Then I remembered what Dan had said about the musicians he had on this fantastic CD. Kenny Werner started playing at the age of five, a piano major at Manhattan School of Music, then to Berklee. Larry Goldings studied classical music at the age of 12 then attended Eastman School of Music. The infamous Gil Goldstein, started on accordion and later changed to piano, studied at Berklee College. This musician also played with great musicians like Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorius. Then there is Mr. George Duke, the master of keyboards. Duke has done superb work such artists as Frank Zappa, violinist Jean Luc Ponty, Stanley Clarke and Billy Cobham.
So having tried to make the first few paragraphs as "minimally boring" as possible, let's talk about this excellent CD.. For all you beginner, intermediate and pro bass players, Dean will put you to shame. His playing is the utmost impeccable, perfect playing I have ever heard. Why do you think I listened to this CD 6 times? The first thing you will notice is there are no drums on this CD, as you would normally find on most jazz albums. A small percentage of jazz CD's released are duets. In about 50% of these, the musicians just play their parts "the way it should be and that's that". It takes great skill to make a duet of any kind sound full. Dean makes this happen quite effortlessly.
The first cut opens with the beautiful standard, "'S Wonderful" by Gershwin. This piece let me know right away that this was not just your ordinary jazz CD. Dean is always right on top of the beat on these songs and I heard him even pushing the tempo in a very precise manner that totally blew me away. His inner rhythm is so ingrained there was no way in stopping this man. In every song, Dean and these all star musicians seem to be playing a sort of "cat and mouse" game throughout the CD. Dean would lead, Kenny Werner would follow, then the whole song would change, reversing the approach. This takes a great deal of skill on the part of Dean and these wonderful piano players. Listen to the songs where Dean not only walks, but is also chording with a slide approach. This is heard in the first part of "One Note Samba" with Larry Goldings on Hammond organ. Dan also uses fantastic percussive techniques on his bass that are wonderful.
Being a George Duke fan for many years, I wanted to hear his cuts first. You would expect to hear some slapping technique at the beginning. Not Dean. On the song "Its On", he waits for the beat to come around and then plays "follow the leader" with Duke. "Stella by Starlight" was the first song I memorized on bass and with Dean & Duke, their version is gorgeous! The rich passing tones of Duke, Dean is somewhat passing over the tempo and returns so gracefully. Each of the songs on this CD are played with great expression, and again, with pure finesse. Dean's playing is the best I have ever heard, being the most creative, true bass player that knows the tunes very well who will take you on a musical journey. I have only heard bass players who have tried - this man carries and delivers precision timing with impeccable soloing - what a master!
Now, be sure to listen to this CD at least more than one time. I guarantee you will miss something in Dean's playing by only hearing it once. Thank you Dan.
Bruce T. Bernardini