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Michael Dease: Clarity

Edward Blanco By

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At the tender age of twenty-four, jazz trombonist and educator Michael Dease has developed an impressive musical résumé that now includes his third album as leader with Clarity and his second 2007 issue (Dease Bones, on Astrix Media). With credits that include an extensive performance roster—including Wynton Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Alicia Keys and Slide Hampton, being a member of the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band and former member of the Illinois Jacquet Big Band---Dease is well on his way to establishing himself as one of today's premier jazz trombonists.

A gifted composer and arranger, for this recording Dease pens nine originals and provides a creative arrangement to Kurt Weill's "Speak Low. Staying within the musical landscape of the mainstream/straight-ahead jazz genre, Dease is very successful in crafting accessible melodic harmonies, resulting in an enjoyable session of music that will appeal to a broad jazz audience.

Employing a light ensemble that includes the trumpet, tenor and alto saxophones, as well as the standard piano rhythm section, there's plenty of space provided here for timely and stylish solos from various members of the band. On Clarity however, it is the pronounced sounds of the trombone that clearly come through as the album's primary lead instrument.

Dease introduces the music with an exciting melody and extensive solo performance on "Relentless. He pays tribute to trombonist extraordinaire Steve Turré with the lively and up-tempo "One 4 Steve, delivering another appreciable solo, while trumpeter Brandon Lee and featured saxophonist Victor Goines lead an array of sparkling solos from the band.

Pianist Eric Reed is showcased on the lovely ballad, "Lullaby For Rita, leading to one of the best cuts of the album, "Mixed Feelings, where Goines once again compliments the trombonist with a teasing solo statement. Dease provides exceptional leads throughout the remainder of the album, finishing off with a catchy rendition of "Speak Low.

Though claiming influences from Curtis Fuller, Jay Jay Johnson and Frank Rosolino, as well as Turré, Dease does not play in their shadows and so demonstrates, through his many exemplary trombone lines on Clarity, a charming session of modern jazz.

Track Listing: Relentless; One 4 Steve; Lullaby For Rita; Mixed Feelings; You Dig?; Believe; Elusive; Top of The Morning; Clarity; Speak Low.

Personnel: Michael Dease: trombone; Brandon Lee: trumpet; Sharel Cassity: alto saxophone; Kris Bowers: piano; Mathew Heredia: bass; Marion Felder: drums (2, 4, 7); Kenneth Salters: drums (1, 5, 6, 9); Mark Whitfield, Jr.: drums (3, 8, 10); Victor Goines: tenor saxophone (2, 4, 9); Eric Reed: piano (1, 3, 10).

Title: Clarity | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Blues Back Records

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