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Take Five With Colin Dean

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Colin Dean:

Colin Dean was born and raised in Long Island, New York. The son of a drummer, he has been surrounded by music his entire life.

He attended the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City and received a BFA in jazz performance in May 2006. While at the New School he studied with masters including Buster Williams, Reggie Workman, Junior Mance, Bobby Sanabria, Rachel Z., Bill Kirchner, Vic Juris, Andy McKee, Benny Powell, Jimmy Owens, Joe Chambers, Jane Ira Bloom and others, where he refined his skills as a bassist and composer.

After graduating from the New School, he emerged as a bandleader and music director, launching his own band, Roots and Grooves. Their debut was supported in part through a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts and they have been performing steadily ever since. In addition to being a jazz performer, Colin is also becoming an in-demand bassist across genres. He has recently collaborated with hip hop artists Eternia and Hasan Salaam, and opened for artists such as Snoop Dog, KRS-One, MC Lyte, Bahamadia and Jean Grae, to name a few. He also spent nearly two years performing and recording with the critically acclaimed indie-rock orchestra Emanuel and the Fear.

In addition, Colin is also currently pursuing a Masters Degree in the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School. His research focuses on how music and art can be used to contribute to a culture of peace, through cultural diplomacy, human rights, conflict transformation and development.



Teachers and/or influences? My father has probably been my greatest influence. Other important mentors include Buster Williams, Reggie Workman, Bobby Sanabria, Lynn Milano and others.

My influences are vast and difficult to pinpoint. I've been influenced musically by everything from Debussy to Jimi Hendrix, Dave Matthews Band to John Coltrane. Gil Evans to Tupac. Toumani Diabate to Tito Puente.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I don't remember a single moment when I didn't know I wanted to be a musician.

Your sound and approach to music: I strive to create music from the heart, music that is intellectually stimulating and accessible to non-musicians at the same time.

Your teaching approach: When teaching I want to enable my students to develop the tools and confidence so that they no longer need a teacher to guide them. I learned this from Buster Williams.

Your dream band:

There are so many great artists I would love to work with. At the top of my list right now are probably Maria Schneider, Simon Shaheen, or John Legend.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: In March 2010, I traveled with six people in a van from NYC to Austin, to perform at SXSW. The drive back was 36 hours straight through, and I got bronchitis. We had one day off upon returning to NYC before flying to Vancouver, where I was still sick and frantically trying to complete overdue papers for grad school while still on tour.

Favorite venue:

My favorite venue is the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, because of their dedication to supporting emerging talent.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? My debut album, Shiwasu was recently released. It was an honor to work with Rachel Z, Sean Nowell and Colin Stranahan, along with everyone else on our team.

The first Jazz album I bought was: Bill Evans, Live at the Village Vanguard/em>.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I'm creating music that's true to my heart. I don't think anyone can do more than that.

Did you know...

I'm several months away from receiving a master's degree in International Affairs<.p>

CDs you are listening to now:

John Legend and The Roots, Wake Up (Sony Music);

Dave Matthews Band, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (RCA Records);

Bela Fleck, Throw Down Your Heart: Africa Sessions (Acoustic Planet);

Simon Shaheen & Qantara- Blue Flame
(Ark 21);

Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Allegresse (Artistshare).

Desert Island picks:

Ron Carter, Piccolo;

Bill Evans, Live at the Village Vanguard;

Dave Matthews Band, Crash;

Miles Davis and Gil Evans, Porgy and Bess;

John Coltrane, A Love Supreme.

How would you describe the state of jazz today? There are too many musicians willing to work for $50 per gig, and there is nowhere near enough support from social institutions to support young and emerging artists.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? There needs to be massive public and private investment in creating platforms for young artists to experiment and share their music with the world freely.


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