Although jazz music continuously evolves, many of its performers stick to a fairly traditional set of instruments. There are plenty of recordings featuring saxophones, trumpets, pianos, or guitars, but how often do you see a jazz record featuring a euphonium? Brad Felt
's The Dana Sessions: Duets With John Dana
, showcases the possibilities of this often overlooked instrument.
Brad Felt developed an affinity for jazz at an early age. His parents had an extensive jazz record collection, which launched his interest. He originally played trumpet in the school orchestra, but later switched to tuba, which he continued playing throughout his college years and into his professional career. From the late seventies on, Felt was a prominent player on the Detroit jazz scene. During his professional life, Felt performed with an impressive list of jazz musicians, including Ellis Marsalis
, Bennie Maupin
, and Freddie Hubbard
During the '90s, he began playing and recording with the euphonium. The euphonium is often limited to the brass section of the orchestra, which is unfortunate. With a register similar to the trombone, the euphonium is an ideal candidate for jazz performances. However, it is actually not a stranger to jazz. Along with Felt's work, players such as Maynard Ferguson
, Bernard McKinney, and Rich Matteson
have all performed jazz on euphonium. The Dana Sessions
, which was recorded in 2010, features Felt along with bassist John Dana
. Felt and Dana began working together in the '80s, often as a duet. Most of the selections on the album are jazz standards, with the exception of two Felt originals. The rapport the two musicians shared shows through in the performances, resulting in an exceptionally enjoyable performance.
Some of the selections seem naturally-suited to a duet setting, while others present more of a challenge for two players to pull off effectively. Take, for example, the Charlie Parker
tune, "Au Privave." This bebop classic is probably difficult enough to play in a group setting, let alone by just two musicians. Felt and Dana, however, make this performance, along with each of the other songs, seem almost effortless.
One of the standout performances on the album is Jimmy Van Heusen's "Darn That Dream." This exceptional version begins with a melodic and soulful introduction, leading into an enjoyable chorus of the melody. Following this, Felt and Dana both get the chance to stretch out with some excellent improvisation.
Unfortunately, we lost both of these outstanding musicians shortly after this recording. Felt passed away in 2011 and Dana in 2018. Although these recordings were unreleased during his lifetime, Felt was very proud of them. After looking through his archives, Brad's brother Doug decided to release these recordings. Although Brad produced the original takes, Doug produced the final release. As mentioned in the liner notes, these are some of the final performances by both artists, and this album "serves as a tribute to both of them."
Inner Urge; You Walked Away; Star Eyes; Dedicated To You; Stablemates; Darn That Dream; Up Jumped Spring; I Wish I Knew; Au Privave; Sometime In The Fall; You Are Too Beautiful; Out of Nowhere; The Song Is You