All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

8

Dan Dean: Songs Without Words

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Bassist Dan Dean's original plan for this project was the hiring of sixteen string players to join him in the studio to record a set for solo bass with string orchestra: Vivaldi's Concerto For Lute and Orchestra in D Major, along with music from JS Bach, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakoff and Albononi. The cost for the project proved prohibitive, but the paucity of funds turned out to be the mother of innovation. Dean tackled the project alone, adapting his arrangements to his overdubbed voice, accompanied by his bass.  

Like the groundbreaking 1968 recording, Switched-On Bach (Columbia Masterworks), an audacious exploration by Walter (now Wendy) Carlos of JS Bach's music on the then-new Moog synthesizer, Dean breaks with tradition on Songs Without Words. The opener,  Bach's "Air on a G String Suite No. 3 in D Major," sounds like a choir of angels, like a soundtrack to an entrance to Heaven, with sweetly layered vocals soaring over subtle bass notes. Rimsey-Korsaksoff's familiar "Flight of the Bumblebee" swarms with an insectile feverishness.  

Vivaldi's "Concerto for Lute and Orchestra in D Major" serves as the centerpiece of the set. With sparser vocal layering—and more pronounced bass lines—this three part, ten minute immersion in the piece is beautifully transcendent, a reverent treatment of the music with a unique approach to making it.  

Thoughts that come to mind upon multiple listenings to Songs Without Words: The relative affordability of setting up a personal recording studio can have freeing effect on the artist; that's the case here. Like Switched-On Bach, nobody's tried this out before. Unlike Switched-On Bach, these are pure organic, human sounds, lovelier and more alluring than the exact but stiffer experience of the early Moog.  

Dan Dean boasts a forty year career as a producer/composer/recording engineer/recording artist. It's a fine surprise to hear him—an artist capable of recording a killer version of James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)," with organist Larry Goldings, on Dean's terrific 2 5 1 (Origin Records, 2010)—involve himself in a personal and highly successful immersion into an unorthodox classical music journey.    

Track Listing: Air on a G String Suite No. 3 in D Major; Flight of the Bumblebee; Concerto for Lute and Orchestra in D Major (Movement 1: Allegro; Movement 2: Largo; Movement 3: Allegro; Night on Bald Mountain; The Sheep May Safely Graze; Adagio in G Minor.

Personnel: Dan Dean: bass, voices, whistle.

Title: Songs Without Words | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Origin Classical

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
Take Five With...
Read more articles
Songs Without Words

Songs Without Words

Origin Classical
2017

buy
Scenes...but not heard

Scenes...but not heard

Origin Records
2014

buy
With Love

With Love

Origin Records
2014

buy
Full Circle

Full Circle

Origin Records
2014

buy
Intimate Conversations

Intimate Conversations

Origin Records
2014

buy
 

O's Time

Origin Records
2014

buy

Related Articles

Read You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To CD/LP/Track Review
You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 24, 2018
Read We Out Here CD/LP/Track Review
We Out Here
by Chris May
Published: February 24, 2018
Read Best of the Bootlegs 2017 CD/LP/Track Review
Best of the Bootlegs 2017
by Doug Collette
Published: February 24, 2018
Read The Asylum Years CD/LP/Track Review
The Asylum Years
by Doug Collette
Published: February 24, 2018
Read Solo Contra CD/LP/Track Review
Solo Contra
by Daniel Barbiero
Published: February 24, 2018
Read Ellipse CD/LP/Track Review
Ellipse
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 23, 2018
Read "Milestones" CD/LP/Track Review Milestones
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 31, 2017
Read "Off Beat" CD/LP/Track Review Off Beat
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: August 9, 2017
Read "The Wild" CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 18, 2017
Read "Nomad" CD/LP/Track Review Nomad
by Nick Davies
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "2018 Neujahrskonzert New Year’s Concert" CD/LP/Track Review 2018 Neujahrskonzert New Year’s Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "avantNOIR" CD/LP/Track Review avantNOIR
by Nicola Negri
Published: March 29, 2017