Like many other talented musicians, Michael Dease
always looks for ways to take his music to the next level. He is continually exploring and looking ahead rather than simply resting on his laurels. Because of this passion and determination, he has earned a reputation as a top session player and as a band leader in his own right. Best Next Thing
is Dease's ninth album for Posi-Tone Records, and it is an impressive addition to his discography.
With this release, Dease concentrates on showcasing the works of artists such as Rufus Reid
, Charles Tolliver
, Renee Rosnes
, and others whose compositions sometimes fail to receive the attention they deserve. While many legendary composers continually have their music recorded, Dease wants to draw attention to "the under-sung giants of jazz whose music pleads to be heard."
Dease is joined by Alex Sipiagin
on trumpet, Rudresh Mahanthappa
on alto sax, Renee Rosnes
on piano, Boris Kozlov
on bass, and Rudy Royston
on drums. Each musician works to complete Dease's vision flawlessly.
The album kicks off with a cover of Steve Turre
's "Rainbow People," which is an appropriate starting point. Turre is a fellow trombonist and, like Dease, is also biracial. Dease describes the rainbow as a metaphor for various colors coming together to form a single beautiful entity. This song's driving beat and outstanding performances create an uplifting vibe which sets the tone for the remaining tracks.
"One For Dease" is another song which has personal significance for Dease. Claudio Roditi
wrote the song while Dease was a member of his band. Besides being a bandleader, Roditi was also Dease's mentor, and this was one of the last songs he composed before his passing.
Many of the other compositions might be unfamiliar to many listeners; however, these selections all deserve recognition. Renee Rosnes' "Tiktaalik," for example, with its innovative use of melody and counterpoint provides plenty of surprises. Charles Tolliver's "With Love" provides a nice foundation for some cool improvisational moments. Rufus Reid's "Glory," was written as homage to Elisabeth Catlett's sculpture of the same name but, as Dease explains, it also "represents the strength and beauty of African-American women."
Perhaps the most unusual cover on Best Next Thing
is Dease's take on Sonny Rollins
' "Doxy." This, of course, is an exception to his rule of the underdog since many people have covered this song over the years. However, this treatment is somewhat different from most other versions. This playful version of the classic has many Charles Mingus
and Thelonious Monk
influences, giving it a unique charm.
Dease also includes four original numbers, which are musically diverse. From the bop-infused "Parker's Brood," to the soulful ballad "Charly Jaye," written for his daughter, along with the fast-paced "Horse Trading," and the lyrical waltz, "Lullaby For Rita," each of these songs showcases his talent as a writer. Dease is obviously a musician who keeps evolving in the best way possible. With Best Next Thing
, he draws on his influences and allows his band to use their individual talents to help bring his music to a new level.
Rainbow People; Parker's Brood; Tiktaalik; Doxy; Charly Jaye; Glory; One For Dease; With Love; Horse Trading; Lullaby For Rita