Michael Dease: Grace (2011)
Michael Dease is to the trombone what Harry Allen is to the tenor saxophone. Lyrical, traditional, well-studied and broad based, both artists can equally get their freak on when necessary. Dease's trombone style contains many influences, but like many conservatory-trained musicians, Dease has had the time and practice to develop is own potent voice.
Emerging among a class of young musicians that include Sharel Cassity and Carol Morgan, Dease presents as a neo-traditionalist with pristine chops and a universal exposure (both bandstand and didactic) to music providing him a virtual library from which to draw. Technically, that is all well and good as a description; but what does Dease sound like?
Dease's previous recordings, Dease Bones (Astrix Media, 2007) and Clarity (Blues Back Records, 2008) found Dease honing his already very capable craft. His voice and tone have become perfectly rounded with a rich and creamy timbre superbly captured on the Jobim opener, "Discussao."
Bix Beiderbecke's "In A Mist" is post-modern updated by Dease, making it both more densely impressionistic and swinging at the same time, proving that the two not need mutually exclusive. Dease allows himself ample room for exploration with a reigned-in rhythm section providing the propulsion without getting in the way. Dease approaches Miles Davis' "Four" where he doubles on trombone and tenor saxophone. More ballad than bebop, Dease's treatment is languid and moody like an opiate nod. Cyrus Chestnut holds the piece together with a concise solo before Dease does his best Scott Hamilton.
Dease does get his bebop on for Oscar Peterson's "Tippin'" playing J.J. Johnson fast, taking corners like Curtis Fuller. His fluid chops are on display on this song with a taut and effusive solo where he is able to exercise his considerable solo prowess. It is as a balladeer that Dease excels and where his true strength lies, as demonstrated on the two Ivan Lins compositions "Setembro" and "Love Dance." Dease's lone composition, the title piece, is a mid-tempo swinger that sums up well what Dease's finely crafted jazz is all about.
Track Listing: Discussao; Blues On The Corner; In A Mist; I Talk To The Trees; Four; Tippin'; Setembro; 26-2; Toys Love Dance; Grace; Salt Song.
Personnel: Personnel: Michael Dease: trombone, valve trombone; Roger Squitero, Circle Rhythm: vocals, percussion; Mark Whitfield: guitar, acoustic guitar; Yotam: acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Sharel Cassity: alto flute, alto saxophone; Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone; Roy Hargrove: trumpet, flugelhorn; Claudio Roditi: flugelhorn; Steve Davis: trombone; Cyrus Chestnut: piano; Gene Jackson: drums.