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Dennis Mackrel

Dennis was born, April 3, 1962. A child prodigy, he began playing the drums when he was two; and became a professional musician at the age of ten when he performed in the Anchorage Community Theater's production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum".

Developing his craft in various playing situations, Dennis received numerous awards such as "Who's Who in Music", 1979; National Endowment for the Arts grant for composition in 1983; and in 1992; "Outstanding Alumni" from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

While attending UNLV, he was a member of the acclaimed UNLV Jazz Ensemble where his drumming and arranging skills caught the attention of legendary jazz vocalist Joe Williams.

In 1981, at 19 years of age, Dennis moved to New York City and landed a gig as a drummer on Broadway. His Broadway credits include "The First" and "A Chorus Line" and in January of 1983, Dennis joined the Count Basie Orchestra on the personal recommendation of Mr. Williams.

Dennis traveled extensively and worked alongside Mr. Basie until his death in April 1984. He continued with the orchestra under the direction of interim leader Eric Dixon followed by Thad Jones. In 1985 under Mr. Jones's leadership, the Count Basie Orchestra recorded one of Dennis's compositions entitled "And That's That".

Dennis stayed with the band, when Frank Foster took over as leader, until December of 1987. Dennis's composition "Bus Dust" was included on the CD "Long Live The Chief" which was recorded during Mr. Foster's tenure as leader.

After leaving the Orchestra, he returned to New York and would soon become the drummer of choice for a number of large ensembles including the American Jazz Orchestra, the Carla Bley Big Band, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Buck Clayton's Swing Band and the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band.

Dennis's transition from sideman to leader continued with his frequent trips to Europe as a guest conductor, arranger and/or soloist for such outstanding ensembles as the Klüvers Big Band in Aarhus, Denmark, the Danish Radio Big Band in Copenhagen, Denmark and the WDR Big Band in Koln, Germany.

In 2010, he returned to the Count Basie Orchestra where he served as its leader and chief conductor until 2013 and in 2015, he was named chief conductor of the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Holland. In 2019, the orchestra was awarded the prestigious "Edison Award" for their double CD "Crossroads".

Dennis toured extensively with the orchestra including performances in Europe, China, Russia, Indonesia and the United States until the global pandemic of 2020.

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Album Review

Roger Kellaway: Live At Mezzrow

Read "Live At Mezzrow" reviewed by Pierre Giroux

Roger Kellaway's latest offering Live At Mezzrow is a masterclass in jazz artistry. With Kellaway on piano--leading his trio of first class musicians, including bassist Jay Leonhart and drummer Dennis Mackrel along with guest guitarist Roni Ben-Hur on a couple of tracks--they embark on a celebration of mostly historical jazz standards from the songbooks of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Billy Strayhorn among others, as well as one of Kellaway's own pieces “All My Life." For those of a certain ...

Album Review

Mike Holober & Balancing Act: Don't Let Go

Read "Don't Let Go" reviewed by Jack Bowers

With Don't Let Go, pianist Mike Holober and the octet Balancing Act seemed to have found an ideal way to cross-breed classical motifs and contemporary jazz to produce a pleasurable listening experience. Then he added lyrics. Granted, not all lyrics are superfluous—even those that are either nebulous or indecipherable, as is too often the case here. It's simply that some listeners may be more receptive to an alternative in the form of, say, Marvin Stamm's trumpet, Dick Oatts' or Jason ...

Album Review

Marvin Stamm, Mike Holober, Mike McGuirk, Dennis Mackrel: Live at Maureen's Jazz Cellar

Read "Live at Maureen's Jazz Cellar" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Marvin Stamm, Mike Holober, Mike McGuirk and Dennis Mackrel; when musicians of that caliber gather onstage to record a live supper club session, even the diners snap to attention and harken closely lest any phrase or nuance eludes the ears. Such was the case on a December evening in 2019 at Maureen's Jazz Cellar in Nyack, NY (once home to the incomparable Zoot Sims) when the quartet held its audience in thrall for more than an hour as the tape ...

Album Review

Mike Holober: Marvin Stamm/Mike Holober Quartet Live @ Maureen's Jazz Cellar

Read "Marvin Stamm/Mike Holober Quartet Live @ Maureen's Jazz Cellar" reviewed by Nicholas F. Mondello

One of the many things sorely missed in the 2020's COVID situation is that cornerstone of jazz—the live-in-a-club performance. Live at Maureen's Cellar provides a vivid recollection of what pre-plague joy we had.. This fine recording presents that intimate club vibe, offering engaging extended solos, ensemble (and audience) interaction, and the emotional range that jazz delivers uniquely in person. The four Aces—Marvin Stamm, Mike Holober, Mike McGuirk and Dennis Mackrel--offer seven selections: two fine Holober originals and ...

Album Review

Marvin Stamm/Mike Holober: Live @ Maureen's Jazz Cellar

Read "Live @ Maureen's Jazz Cellar" reviewed by Pierre Giroux

It is hard to overstate the value of long standing working relationships between musicians. When this musical symbiosis is at its best, the result is a genuine understanding and an interpretation of the music in a comprehensive way. Such is the case between flugelhornist Marvin Stamm and pianist Mike Holober on Live @ Maureen's Jazz Cellar. In order to best exemplify the recognition of a shared craft, they have chosen a series of titles from the jazz standard catalogue along ...

Album Review

Scott Robinson: Tenormore

Read "Tenormore" reviewed by Angelo Leonardi

Da tre decenni Scott Robinson è figura onnipresente nelle orchestre e nei gruppi d'orientamento mainstream: ha registrato venti album da leader e partecipato a più di 270 dischi. Venticinque anni al sax baritono con Maria Schneider e poi con Bob Mintzer, John Fedchock, Bob Brookmeyer, Frank Kimbrough, Ron Carter, Joe Lovano, Paquito D'Rivera, Bob Wilber (ma anche con Roscoe Mitchell e con David Bowie). In questo disco privilegia esclusivamente il sax tenore per riaffermare quell'identità perduta nelle molte ...

Album Review

Scott Robinson: Tenormore

Read "Tenormore" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

When attempting to lend form to the term “rara avis" in jazz, Scott Robinson instantly appears in the mind's eye. He's most easily recognized these days as a horn heavy on the most standard of heavy horns, adding ballast and low-end individuality to the sound of Maria Schneider's orchestra with his baritone saxophone, but Robinson is also beyond proficient—a virtuoso, in fact—on numerous instruments that most people don't even know exist. His arsenal includes theremin, ophicleide, sarrusophone, alto clarinet, echo ...

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Pianist-Composer Armen Donelian Debuts New Trio, With Jay Anderson & Dennis Mackrel, On 'Fresh Start,' Due April 1 From Sunnyside Records

Pianist-Composer Armen Donelian Debuts New Trio, With Jay Anderson & Dennis Mackrel, On 'Fresh Start,' Due April 1 From Sunnyside Records

Source: Terri Hinte Publicity

Pianist-composer Armen Donelian reemerges from the COVID-inspired shutdowns with a newly refined conception on both instrument and pen on Fresh Start, to be released April 1 on Sunnyside Records. The album is the recorded premiere of Donelian’s new trio featuring bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Dennis Mackrel. Sidelined like all musicians by the worldwide pandemic, Donelian was further removed from performing when a shoulder injury left him temporarily unable to play the piano. Ever resourceful, the 71-year-old simply wrote new ...



CNY Jazz Orchetra Series Opens with Dennis Mackrel

CNY Jazz Orchetra Series Opens with Dennis Mackrel

Source: All About Jazz

On Saturday, October 25th at 8pm, the CNY Jazz Arts Foundation will officially open their 13th season with a concert by the CNY Jazz Orchestra with special guest artist Dennis Mackrel, famed drummer with the Count Basie Orchestra and McCoy Tyner Big Band, an internationally acclaimed musician, composer and educator. The event will take place in the Carrier Theater, 411 Montgomery Street in Syracuse. Tickets are on sale now at the OnCenter Box Office at $19.50, $24.50 and $27.50, with ...



"Jazz Bash" Kicks Off CNY Series

"Jazz Bash" Kicks Off CNY Series

Source: All About Jazz

The annual Central New York Jazz Arts Foundation concert series opens Saturday with a new event designed to help pay for it. Organizers describe the “Jazz Bash" as a marathon fundraising party. “We envision this annual kickoff event as a way to keep up with ever rising operation costs, such as utilities and insurance, and a way to introduce a larger public to our venue," CNY Jazz Board president Barney Molldrem said in a release. Jazz Bash will be held ...

Dennis "...is already a good drummer, and one day he's really actually going to be a monster" - Count Basie

"If I ever have a record date coming up that calls for a drummer and Dennis is not available, I'll postpone the session. He's that good." - George Shearing

“I think Dennis is one of the finest young drummers I've ever heard. He is extremely knowledgeable and he is also a very accomplished writer..." - Thad Jones

"Mackrel's drumming, especially well-displayed in his brushwork solos on ballads, was illuminated by his far-ranging experience and his skills as a composer and arranger" - LA Times



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Live At Mezzrow

Cellar Music Group


Fresh Start

Sunnyside Records


Don't Let Go

Sunnyside Records


Live at Maureen's...

Self Produced



Arbors Records


Tenor Eleven

From: Tenormore
By Dennis Mackrel



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