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Michael Dees: The Dream I Dreamed

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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In describing his perspective of the state of certain vocal efforts existing today, a wag, respected for his pungent commentary, once said: "There's no substitute for crass." Yet, there are singers who dwell in more refined melodic places—environs of elegance and refinement—"musical champagne," if you will, who preach using melody, lyric and rhythmic subtleties. They are called "artists" and Michael Dees is one of them. A very fine one.

I Dreamed a Dream sends up 14 Dees originals, all of which are steeped in the maelstrom of romance. There's a ton of "Is" and "Yous" here—much of the stuff of love, passion, with heartbreak and longing in there, too. While Dees vocalizes on same, he presents himself as a classic, highly-refined voice with more than a dollop of Sinatraesque overtones. A classic tenor, Dees has paid dues in the studios, recording everything from jingles and soundtrack segments to track stints on "The Simpsons." He's a pro's (and prose) pro.

However, be assured that there are no cartoons here—just an abundance of tasty material, mostly balladic. All are exceptionally well-performed. Some of the selections seem a bit texturally repetitive (for example, "Look at Me" and "I Miss You" have the near-exact same intro). However, understand that throughout the recording Dees shows he is a superior interpreter of lyric and has a marvelous grasp on the interplay between word, note, volume and delivery ("I Miss You"). Where's there's love lost, you hear the yearning in his voice ("I Stay"). On his up-tempo material ("In a Moment," "So Crazy for You," "Truly Love") Dees swings—if a hair "elegantly reserved."

The supporting players here are admirably up to the task of framing the guy in the spotlight and making him present things beautifully. Pianist Terry Trotter, bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Steve Schaeffer are the core behind Dees. There are solo spots featured with guests, Bob Sheppard, Sal Marquez, Doug Webb and Chuck Manning. Johnny Carson once asked Frank what he listened to when he "had company" (Ravel and Debussy, FYI). Since OBE's not around for personal perfs, I'd certainly vouch for throwing Michael Dees on. He'll cover the date, but, beware—after hearing this, she might go home with him.

Track Listing: In a Moment; Look at Me; A Kiss; I Miss You; So Crazy for You; I'm Home; Back in New Orleans; I Stay; A Long Time Comin', Every Time You Touch Me; Am I Supposed to Care; Where Love Goes, Truly Love, The Dream I Dreamed.

Personnel: Michael Dees: vocals; Terry Trotter: piano; Chuck Berghofer; Steve Schaeffer: drums; Steve Huffsteter: flugelhorn (3, 11); Doug Webb: tenor saxophone (1, 9, 10); Bob Sheppard: tenor saxophone (1,6); clarinet (7); Chuck Manning: tenor saxophone (5,12);Don Williams: percussion (1,3,5,7,11,13).

Title: The Dream I Dreamed | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Jazzed Media

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