"2 5 1" by Dan Dean with George Duke, Gil Goldstein,
Larry Goldings and Kenny Werner
(Origin Records 82557)
Dan Dean is one of those multi-talented guys who has carved out several careers in the music business. I met Dan as a player in the 70s when he was playing in a trio with clarinet great Bill Smith, and in a duo with vibist Tom Collier (they're all still close friends, by the way). As a busy studio musician, he's been sideman to the stars, worked on hundreds of commercial dates, composed music for tv and film and eventually started his own studio. He's authored Electric Bass Books published by Hal Leonard and served on the music faculty of several institutions. In recent years he's developed the Dan Dean Sample Libraries, including extensive sampling of all musical instruments which have won numerous awards.
Dan Dean still loves to play electric bass, and he loves spontaneous sessions because of the spirited exchanges and element of surprise. This CD was conceived with that in mind. It started with hearing Kenny Werner with Toots Thielemans and Oscar Castro-Neves. "There's just so much depth and feeling in their music," Dan says. He arranged some studio time in Seattle to play some duos with Kenny and they hit it off immediately. Dan started a list of other keyboard players he'd like to play duos with ... the organist Larry Goldings, pianist and accordion player Gil Goldstein, and pianist George Duke. Single sessions with each of them over a couple of years netted a great variety of material for this CD. The keyboard players have varied styles, and with piano, Hammond B3 and accordion there's great textural variety as well. In each case, the emphasis is on musical conversation with lots of exchanges.
Most of the tunes are familiar repertoire for jazz players so the sessions were spontaneous with little or no rehearsal beyond a talk through. Dan says that gave studio sessions the feel of live performances. There's musical humor and quick wit as well, apparent in the reharmonisation of several tunes, the seemingly "out of tune" sections of the opening S'Wonderful with Kenny Werner, and inserting fleeting references to other songs. Musicians have long employed such devices to entertain themselves as well as those listening who are paying attention! Kenny Werner is by turns playful and soulful as you'll hear in the smoothly swinging Dolphin Dance and the tender Body and Soul.
Larry Goldings is one of a handful of the present generation of organists who've developed a lighter but no less swinging style on the instrument which is, after all, the first keyboard synthesizer! His take on One Note Samba is as fresh as a breeze on Ipanema. For contrast, check out his playing on the soulful Georgia On My Mind and the funky but playful I Got You. And although Monk's music rarely turns up in an organist's repertoire, the duo makes a strong case for inclusion here. "I've always loved Larry's playing" Dan says.
Gil Goldstein was a spontaneous addition to the mix when an opportunity came up to play with him. The duo on All The Things You Are is one of the mostly fully realized tunes on the CD that seems to go from one highlight to another. Bringing the accordion into the mix on Lover Man, things get very loose and free as they deconstruct the melody and put it back together again.
Hearing George Duke playing unadorned piano reminds us again of what a monster jazz player he is. Although he began his career as pianist, he's better known today as a producer of R & B. It's good to hear him on some fresh variations on Stella by Starlight and his original, It's On. The irresistible swing of the latter tune reminds of Duke Ellington's treatise on what he called "earlobe tilting".
Dan says the sessions were some of "the most fun in my musical career... and I came up notch or two as a player." We can sense the freedom and feel the musical interplay in every tune. As Zoot said, "you sure can have fun with these musical instruments."
Jazz After Hours, PRI
Jazz Northwest, KPLU Jazz Northwest, KPLU