Take Five With Dan Dean

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Dan Dean:

Bassist, Sample Library developer, Engineer/Producer. Played with jazz greats like Howard Roberts, Dave Grusin, Stan Getz, Eddie Harris, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Shelly Manne, B.B. King, Ernestine Anderson, Diane Schuur and others. Created the Dan Dean Sample Libraries for GigaStudio. Wrote and produced the Hal Leonard Electric Bass Method and Studio Series books.


Electric Bass.

r>Teachers and/or influences?

William O. "Bill" Smith, Howard Roberts. I spent a lot of time while I was a young guy listening to Howard, Joe Pass and other great guitarists. About the same time, I discovered Keith Jarrett and the outside players of jazz when I took a history of jazz class at the university. It was a real eye-opener for me. Bill Smith was my professor at the UW, and I learned a ton from him and later played weekends in his trio.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I spent hours playing my aunt's Hammond bass pedals while she played the melody and accompaniment. When I discovered I hated moving side-by-side refrigerators up three flights of stairs only to find out we delivered the wrong color. Come to think of it, I never really wanted to be a musician—it just happened!

Your sound and approach to music:

Different. I play bass with a pick and focus on soloing and chordal playing. People ask me who my main influences are—what other bassists? That sort of thing. I actually listen to every other instrument besides bass. Great solos come from sax players, trumpet players, piano players. This is where you really hear the melodies and interesting harmonic content.

Your teaching approach:

Design the instruction so that the student discovers what I want him to. The teacher needs to focus on making the lessons fun and rewarding to the student.

Your dream band:

Marian McPartland, John Scofield, Joe Lovano, Bernard Purdie, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, There are too many to list, really.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

There was once a gig on which there was no AC power for me to plug into, so the venue rented a really loud gas operated generator. This sat right behind my amp. It droned in the crack between Bb and B, so we had to change all the tunes keys to B. Funny for a moment or two—maybe.

Favorite venue:

The Greek theatre/LA. The place was packed, the audience was jazzed—what a great time.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Jaunty Jolly by Howard Roberts. Little did I know that I would be playing bass with him less than seven years later.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

A different take on playing the electric bass. I don't approach it from an R&B standpoint, but from a more melodic perspective.

Did you know...

I am not a night owl. I also really dislike going to movies during the day, leaving the theatre in broad daylight.

CDs you are listening to now:

George Duke, In a Mellow Tone (Heads Up).

Desert Island picks:

Roger Kellaway, The Roger Kellaway Cello Quartet (A&M);

John Scofield, Slo Sco;

John Scofield, Blue Matter (Grammophone);

Keith Jarrett, Treasure Island;

Howard Roberts, Jaunty Jolly (Capitol).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

This is a difficult one. It seems like we're in a transition, waiting for the next big thing, which no one really has an idea what that will be. There are fewer venues, less potential to make a living, all sorts of things which seem to be counterproductive to the proliferation of jazz.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Jazz artists need venues to play in. It seems like there are less and less of them. Also, the current state of the digital world makes content essentially worthless, so it is difficult to make a living doing jazz. Somehow, preventing copying of recordings needs to be rethought. It is also time for a new recording standard—one that makes listening to jazz more realistic and three-dimensional. As handy as MP3s are, they sound nothing like a CD.

What is in the near future?

A new project is in the planning phase, probably the next step in the 2 5 1 series with more great players.

By Day:

I create sample libraries and write/produce commercials for radio and TV and engineer.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

A surgeon or pilot. Where I live, a lot of the guys I know are surgeons, lawyers or CEOs, and they all want to be musicians. They can hardly wait to get home from the office to play. I think I'd do the opposite for a while!

Photo Credit

Photo Courtesy of Dan Dean

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