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Dial and DeRosa: Keep Swingin'


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Dial and DeRosa: Keep Swingin'
Keep Swingin', a splendid new album from pianist Garry Dial and drummer Rich DeRosa, features "the music of Charlie Banacos." Charlie who? you may ask. And the answer is, there are jazz educators, and then there was Charlie Banacos, whose talent and ingenuity in the classroom influenced and inspired countless jazz musicians for more than fifty years. During that time, he designed more than a hundred courses of study and wrote half a dozen books on composition and improvisation.

Banacos' innovative courses ranged from "Intervallics" to "Tetratonics," "Superimpositions" to "Bitonal Pendulums," all years ahead of their time, and all cornerstones of jazz education today in schools from coast to coast and around the world. Besides teaching, Banacos was a composer, arranger and pianist. Now—fourteen years after Banacos' passing in 2009—Dial, one of his former students, and DeRosa have teamed to arrange and reimagine ten of Banacos' impressive compositions for groups whose sizes are mostly in double figures but not quite as large as a full-fledged big band.

Several of Banacos' former students were able to sit in, including Dial, trumpeter Nick Marchione, alto saxophonist Andrew Gould, tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, guitarists Wayne Krantz and Mike Stern and bassists Jeff Berlin and Joe Hubbard. And there may be others, as a complete list is not given. The five- member Keep Swingin' horn section—amplified by guest flutist Anne Drummond—performs on every number alongside featured soloists and guest band members.

The studio date opens, appropriately enough, with "Keep Swingin,'" a temperate blues whose soloists are Dial, alto Dick Oatts and guest trumpeter Terell Stafford. While it may move more deliberately than expected, "Keep Swingin'" achieves its goal, as do Banacos' other charts, starting with the hip and spasmodic "Great Awakening," with solos by Hubbard on electric bass and Krantz on electric guitar. The breezy "Bat Cave" features two pianos—Dial and Gerard D'AngeloJay Anderson's walking bass, John Riley's forceful drums and Gary Smulyan's muscular baritone sax, after which the even-tempered "Pine Needles" brings to the fore Dial's eloquent piano and Stern's electric guitar.

The smooth-flowing "Mummy's Curse" showcases Bergonzi's quintet (trumpeter Phil Grenadier, pianist Plamen Karadonev, bassist Matt Stavrakis, drummer Luther Gray, which leads to the high-spirited "Bernie Burnola" (solos by Drummond, pianist Helio Alves, soprano Paul Levi, drummer Mauricio Zottarelli) and well-grooved "A-440" (showcasing Berlin's electric bass and piano.) Dial and Anderson are out front on the charming "Nero," Oatts (soprano), Drummond, Zottarelli and Victor Provost (piano, steel pans) on the bright and innovative "Pluto Language." The album closes with "Pelaghia," an eloquent and earnest anthem for unaccompanied pianists whose names are Margaret and Barbara Banacos.

This is a sparkling—and swinging—tribute to a man who wasn't as well-known as many of the musicians he tutored but was a giant among those in his chosen field. It is good to know that, thanks largely to Garry Dial and Rich DeRosa, Charlie Banacos' music will Keep Swingin' for years to come even though he is no longer here to surprise and enlighten us. As a bonus, the album is accompanied by a 100- page book containing his students' anecdotes along with photos, artistic renderings and more, with corresponding QR codes per tune, per chapter.

Track Listing

Keep Swingin’; Great Awakening; Bat Cave; Pine Needles; Mummy’s Curse; Bernie Burnola; A- 440; Nero; Pluto Language; Pelaghia.


Rich DeRosa
Paolo Levi
saxophone, soprano
Andrew Gould
Chris Oatts
Jerry Bergonzi
saxophone, tenor
Gary Smulyan
saxophone, baritone
Ryan Keberle
Wayne Krantz
guitar, electric
Mike Stern
Paul Meyers
Additional Instrumentation

David Witham: keyboards; Jay Anderson, Matt Stavrikas: bass; Joe Hubbard, Itaiguara Brandao: electric bass; Jeff Berlin: electric bass, piano; Victor Provost: steel pan, piano; Tom Brechtlein, John Riley, Luther Gray: drums; Mauricio Zottarelli: drums, percussion.

Album information

Title: Keep Swingin' | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Outside in Music

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