Bassist Dan Dean leaves no stone unturned when it comes to his knowledge and involvement in the world of music. His work as a producer and engineer, along with his development of the Dan Dean Sample Libraries, demonstrates his affinity for the technological side of the music business. Dean's work as an educatorincluding electric bass method books written for Hal Leonarddemonstrates his desire to help developing musicians and his work as a performing musician, including work with singer Diane Schuur, guitarist Howard Roberts, drummer Shelly Manne and many others, rounds out his multi-faceted career. While Dean's intelligence and skill sets seep into all of these projects, his creative spirit and admirable chops are added to the mix on 2 5 1.
This album takes its title from the familiar turnaround that is a key element in the harmonic progression of many classic songs. The 11 songs included herewhich include 10 standards and one George Duke compositionuse this progression, but harmonic knowledge isn't a prerequisite for aural enjoyment. These performances are duo interpretations and Dean is joined by some of the best in the business. Pianist Kenny Werner bookends the album and appears on a fairly straightforward take of Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance" that shows up in the middle. "'S Wonderful" starts things off and Dean's versatility is immediately noticeable. His bass work is supple and flexible and his musical reflexes allow for a heightened degree of communication between duo partners throughout the album. This particular track gives him a chance to play faux-rhythmic guitarist at one point and he even fills in his own musical gaps, covering a wide range on his bass, during a solo that builds on the melody. Werner's appearance on the other end of the albumwith "Body And Soul"is a study in musical elegance. Dean's most graceful and lyrical playing on the album shows up on this track and it provides great contrast to their album-opening dialogue.
Organist Larry Goldings appears four times throughout the album and adds his own unique sound to the proceedings. The organ/bass pairing on "One Note Samba" simmers and both men give a nod to Ray Charles with a slow and soulful take on "Georgia On My Mind." James Brown's classic "I Got You (I Feel Good)" serves as an opportunity to blow off some steam and Dean steals the show with his fresh soloing on "In Walked Bud." Keyboard player George Duke likes to have fun, as he demonstrates during the funky, gospel-infused "It's On," but his technique is dead serious. This bravura performance also serves as a showcase for Dean's agile fingers and liquid-like sense of movement. Duke's other appearance, on "Stella By Starlight," begins in a romantic state with attractive flourishes but, once things kick off, Duke leaves nothing left unsaid as he throws in some blindingly fast runs that show him to be at the top of his game.
Dean's other musical partner on the album is pianist/accordionist Gil Goldstein. While Goldstein is highly touted as a performer, he is equally lauded for his arranging work. While he didn't actually serve in an official arranging capacity here, his two performances are underscored by this duality in his background. "All The Things You Are" begins with a searching quality as Dean hints at where things will go. The familiar opening, taken from saxophonist Charlie Parker's version of the song, finally arrives and then things take off. Broken musical phrases arrive a bit later and both men show that they have stop-on-dime reflexes on a couple of occasions. Dean's bass work even briefly touches on a reggae feel before both musicians move on to a more polished and classy sound at the end of the song. Goldstein moves to accordion for "Lover Man," which stands out from the rest of the material on the album. Shades of the Mediterranean seem to hover over this performance which begins with a moody sound and use of rubato and ends with slight musical abstraction.
Each musical pairing on this album shows off a different side of Dean's playing and the playlist, and thematic concept, make it all the more enjoyable. With the always absorbing 2 5 1, Dean can now add recording dynamic duo partner and strong creative force to his long list of credits.
Tracks: 'S Wonderful; One Note Samba; All The Things You Are; It's On; Dolphin Dance; Georgia On My Mind; Stella By Starlight; I Got You (I Feel Good); Lover Man; In Walked Bud; Body And Soul.
Personnel: Dan Dean: bass; George Duke: piano (4, 7); Larry Goldings: Hammond B3 organ (2, 6, 8, 10); Gil Goldstein: piano (3), (9); Kenny Werner: piano (1, 5, 11).
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