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Step Tempest gives us the guidance on “Father Figure” by Michael Dease

mindset2The brand new Dease disk, “Father Figure“, not only casts the trombonist in the role of leader but also mentor.  He, Glenn Zaleski (a young pro) and Behn Gillece (vibraphone) are the veterans in an ensemble that also features bassist Endea Owens, drummer Luther Allison plus alto saxophonists Markus Howell and Immanuel Wilkins.  Ms. Owens and Mr. Allison make for an impressive rhythm section throughout, her active lines not just supporting but also offering counterpoint while his cymbal work is exemplary as are his choices of when to “push.” Howell appears on 6 of the 11 tracks; he has a bright sound and many of his phrases joyfully dance above the rhythm section.  Wilkins, still in his teens, seems to have a more supportive role on his 4 appearances but does get off a raucous solo on the opener “Church of the Good Hustler.” Mr. Gillece appears on most of the tracks and his vibes sound mesh nicely with the different lineups on the disk. His rippling sound is a highlight on Dease’s “Brooklyn“, named for both the borough in which his family lives and also for his baby daughter.

There are numerous highlights throughout, among them the playful “Marian The Librarian” (from Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man”).  Dease and Zaleski caress the melody as the rhythm section dances delightfully in support. That quartet return to the Broadway and Hollywood hit for a sweet turn through “Till There Was You”, the melody lovingly played on trombone and followed by a jaunty solo.  Michael Howell’s “The Pursuit for Inspiration” is a medium-tempo ballad with Dease and Howell playing the melody – the young alto saxophonist plays a fine, assured, solo while Ms. Owens’ counterpoint stands out.  “Annette’s For Sure“, from the pen of trumpeter Claudio Roditi, is a sweet romp with strong solos from the leader, Zaleski, and Howell. The quintet (with Gillece and Howell but minus Zaleski) visit the blues on “Riff Raff“, a sweetly-played tune from trombonist Grachan Moncur III with excellent solos all around.  Gillece takes his over the rhythm section only and it really shines.  The title track closes the album on a bop-ish note with the leader creating a snappy melody and a sparkling solo (including a sneaky quote from “Parisian Thoroughfare” at the onset.) Ms. Owens take a short but excellent break before Zaleski shows off his Bud Powell-like chops.

With “Father Figure”, Michael Dease shines the spotlight on a fine group of musicians, several of whom he has worked with during his tenure on the faculty of Michigan State University. He’s generous with solo time for the members of the ensemble but don’t lose of the sight of the fact that he himself is a fine soloist, often with a most handsome tone. This music is a delightful way to spend the day.

Step Tempest – Richard Kamins

Posted on reviews “Father Figure” by Michael Dease

mindset2On his ninth CD (third for Posi-Tone), Michael Dease cuts loose with a wildly swingin’ post-boppin’ assemblage of talent on vibraphone, piano, bass, drums and two alto saxophones wherein the trombone man serves as Father Figure to some crazily talented youngsters and veterans alike (pianist Glenn Zaleski and vibraphonist Behn Gillece shine throughout) on originals and well-picked covers, or, as we like to say in the music-listenin’ business: discreeto pickos.

Leading off with a tune Dease wrote specifically with a scene from Robert Rossen’s 1961 film The Hustler in mind, wherein Fast Eddie Felsen walks into the home pool hall of Minnesota Fats, calling it the “Church of the Good Hustler,” he follows it up with “Brooklyn” (for his daughter, not the city) and “Cry of the Wolf” (they say the howl of the arctic wolf can be heard for 10 miles across the tundra. It’s a tortured, anguished sound.) Having two altos in your jazz band means you must cover Jackie McLean. Here, Grachan Moncur III’s “Riff Raff” is an exquisite recreation of a blues off McLean’s 1964 Destination Out album.

Having played in the band of Brazilian trumpeter Claudio Roditi (as well as in the bands of Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, The Heath Brothers and Rufus Reid), Dease covers Roditi’s “Anette’s For Sure” before tackling Mulgrew Miller’s “Wingspan” and even “Marian the Librarian” and “‘Til There Was You” from Meredith Wilson’s 1957 Broadway musical, “The Music Man.” He closes with the title track, written for his bassist Endrea Owens, who was his student at Michigan State University. It sounds eerily similar to “All God’s Children Got Rhythm,” the jazz standard which came from the 1937 Marx Brothers movie A Day at the Races.

Dease received his Masters from Julliard to quickly become an in-demand session cat on CDs by Alicia Keys, Paul Simon, Elton John and Neil Diamond. He’s now well on his way to becoming one of the most respected new ‘bone men in the business. – Mike Greenblatt

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“Father Figure” by Michael Dease gets reviewed by All About Jazz

mindset2Paying it forward is simply a given in jazz. Long before the music was welcomed in ivory tower institutions and codified for classroom consumption at all levels, seasoned musicians were sharing their hard-earned knowledge with aspiring youngsters on bandstands and in basements, serving as guides, exemplars, nurturers, and teachers all at once. Those experienced players were musical father figures, helping the next generation(s) along on their quest to join them, and that’s a role that trombonist Michael Dease aspires to on this, his third date for Posi-Tone and his seventh release in total.

Dease’s paternal instincts have, no doubt, grown by leaps and bounds since he took on a larger role in jazz education at Michigan State University and became a father himself. Both experiences feed into Dease’s need to do his part to bridge the gap between generations and bolster the ranks of those on the rise. Or at least that’s what this album seems to say. Rather than build a band solely around known quantities for this date, Dease decided to tap into the youthful stream of musicians out there who are ready and eager to make their move. All of his choices in that department prove wise. Bassist Endea Owens is the biggest revelation here, possessing a wonderfully wide beat, an incredibly fine-tuned internal compass, pitch-perfect intonation, and solid technique. Then there’s drummer Luther Allison, a player fully capable of working well in mellow and molten environments, and alto saxophonists Markus Howell and Immanuel Wilkins, strong-minded horn men who work well together and apart. Add to that list two established musicians—vibraphonist and label mate Behn Gillece and pianist Glenn Zaleski—and you have a solid band ready for action.

The eleven tracks presented by that band touch on the old and new. There are originals, songs from The Music Man, winners from the likes of trumpeter Claudio Roditi and the late pianist-educator Mulgrew Miller, and classics from the respective books of saxophonist Charlie Parker and trombonist Grachan Moncur III. This crew proves adept at handling all of it. They mine bluesy veins (“Church Of The Good Hustler,” Moncur’s “Riff Raff”), bop along with the best of them (Parker’s “Confirmation”), swim in strong Brazilian currents (Roditi’s “Annette’s For Sure”), and capture the pure beauty embedded in the music (“Till There Was You”). Everybody gets a chance to shine, but it’s Dease who shines brightest. His buttery tone, monster chops, and impeccable sense of musicality lead the way. He sets the bar high here, as any father figure would, and his bandmates rise to the challenge.

Dan Bilawsky  –  All About Jazz

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“Decisions” by Michael Dease gets reviewed by All About Jazz

When it comes to decision-making, not everything is black and white or right and wrong. On occasion there are multiple paths that can be seen as the correct choice, and trombonist Michael Dease truly understands that. Dease came to a significant fork in life’s road when he found himself in a position to decide whether to remain a first-call New York-based player or move to Michigan. He ultimately chose the latter option and it hasn’t hurt him one bit, as his career as an educator at Michigan State University has blossomed and he still makes his presence felt on record and in the jazz community at large. But in truth, either choice probably would’ve worked out just fine for Dease, as some life decisions can potentially offer multiple outcomes that all prove to be positive in the long run.

That experience can be seen as a parallel to making this album. Dease could’ve gone in multiple directions here, as there was no prescribed track. In the end, he put together a small group, paved a path that’s basically straight down the middle, and split the program between originals and covers, showcasing the lyrical qualities in his playing in various settings. Those happen to have been excellent choices, though the same thing probably could’ve been said had he gone in any number of other directions. Such is jazz, the art of album-making, and life in general.

Dease kicks off this program with three numbers that basically sum up what he’s about: his penchant for swinging scenarios comes through on trombonist Steve Davis‘ Jazz Messengers-worthy “Grove’s Groove,” his appreciation for earthier sounds is apparent on the funky “Jason’s Gonna Get Ya,” and his ability to put his heart into the music surfaces during “Trayvon.” Everything that follows can somehow be tied back to those three preferences or properties, but it’s not just Dease who’s working those lines. The other musicians take cues from Dease, amplifying his personality in the process. Drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. and bassist Rodney Whitaker deliver swing foundations in various shapes, forms, and gears; pianist Glenn Zaleski covers a wide range of emotions in his work, delivering bluesy banter, Ellington-esque swaths of color, comforting chordal gestures, and guidepost comping; and saxophonist Tim Green adds another layer of complexity to the mix when he appears, giving his two cents as a soloist, bringing greater energy to the music, and joining forces with Dease to add weight to the heads.

There’s a good deal of stability and uniformity in the direction(s) that Dease takes, but said consistency never has a negative impact on the way this album is received. While certain rhythmic and stylistic traits are endemic to many of his songs, Dease doesn’t compose or arrange from a mold. Each song speaks with a different voice and nary a bad decision can be observed here.

Track Listing: Grove’s Groove; Jason’s Gonna Get Ya; Trayvon; Gorgeous Gwen; Decisions; Right Place Wrong Time; Everything Must Change; Three And One; You’re My Everything; The Big D.

-Dan Bilawsky – All About Jazz

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SomethingElse Reviews Michael Dease “Decisions”…


I’ve might have said this before: Michael Dease is the rightful heir to the trombone legacy of Curtis Fuller, and even Fuller himself might agree. Rare is the trombonist who can match the technical proficiency, inventive phrasing and genuine feel that seems to come easily to Dease.

After making a triumphant foray into big band for his Posi-Tone debut Relentless, Dease gets back to small ensemble business for Decisions (August 28, 2015). Heading a five-piece band with Tim Green on alto sax, Glenn Zaleski on piano, Rodney Whitaker on bass and Ulysses Owens behind the drum kit, Dease makes good use of the talent he’s assembled using mostly his own compositions with a couple of standards tossed in for good measure.

Dease serves up prime post-bop in all sorts of flavors. “Grove’s Groove” has a nice shuffling groove courtesy of Owens’ precise drumming, but Zaleski’s spry solo is the high point of a series of fine solos by nearly everyone. The rhythm section forges a crisp, contemporary groove for “Jason’s Gonna Get Ya” that the horns nimbly syncopate around, but Dease composed a complexity to the song that goes well beyond being just a riff. He does the same for “Right Place Wrong Time,” a track where Green’s expressive alto steals the show. Whitaker’s taut bass work anchors a lilting swing for “Decisions,” again a highlight for Zaleski. And Owens gets to show off on the blues based “The Big D.”

Take those stellar individual performances away and you can still be blown be dazzled by Dease’s trombone. He makes it sing on “Gorgeous Gwen” and on ballads like “Everything Must Change” he knows just how much emotion to invest in his trombone to make it believable.

A model of consistency, style and grace, Michael Dease stays at the head of the class among jazz trombonists with his seventh album, Decisions.


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Tom Tallitsch “All Together Now” gets coverage from SomethingElse Reviews…



For Tom Tallitsch’s latest album (released last month by Posi-Tone Records), the tenor ace assembles a stellar sextet for All Together Now. With a gathering of Tallitsch on tenor sax, Mike DiRubbo on alto, Michael Dease on trombone, Brian Charette on keyboards, Peter Brendler on bass and Mark Ferber on drums, Tallitsch went all out talent-wise, making this more appropriately “All Star Together Now.”

His fast follow-up to 2014’s Ride again tweaks the band construction from the prior record, with DiRubbo being the key addition. With three horns up front, Tallitsch gets to go more creative with the arrangements and add a forceful, layered swing to the sharp, expressive soloing that these guys were seemingly born to do.

Tallitsch puts this vast array of talent to work on the hot, hard bop originals like “Passages,” Border Crossing” and “Medicine Man”; these are the kind of numbers that make Posi-Tone the closest thing we’ve got today to the classic Blue Note label. The three horn masters all burn on their solos for the opening “Passage,”, and then Charette on piano caps it off with an inspired one of his own. On the second of this trio, Brendler’s taut bass keeps it all locked down as DiRubbo delivers a towering cascade of notes, followed by Tallitsch’s spiritual and spirited turn. Both of these guys also shimmer on “Medicine Man, ” while Dease exploits his extended showcase on the shuffling mid-tempo “Curmudgeon.”

All Together Now isn’t some mere Art Blakey homage, though, even though it’d be a nice one. The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” is the recipient of that old gospel feel with Charette moving over to organ as Tallitsch administers just the right amount of soul and DiRubbo finishes what Tallitsch started. The chorus opens up like angels appearing out of the sky and the whole band ratchets up the passion to dramatic effect. Gospel is visited upon again for “Arches,” resplendent but in a somber way. Charette is heard on electric piano for Frank Zappa and George Duke’s “Uncle Remus,” an overlooked cut from Zappa’s hit album Apostrophe(‘), but Tallitsch recognized Zappa’s underrated flair for a delicate melody and showed how at home this tunes feels in jazzier hands.

In a time when mainstream jazz is often thought of (and sometimes treated) as some stoic museum piece, Tom Tallitsch can always be counted on to counter that notion with a presentation of this idiom that’s dynamic, majestic and yes, a boatload of fun. With All Together Now, the fun continues.


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Tom Tallitsch “All Together Now” is reviewed by BuzzardTracks






Tom Tallitsch. All Together Now.

Posi-Tone Records, 2015.  Tom Tallitsch:

It must be the season for good jazz releases. Tom Tallitsch’s last CD, Ride, was reviewed here about a year ago, and his releases seem to be coming at a faster rate than ever.  His third album for Posi-Tone brings back two of his bandmates from last year, bassist Peter Brendler and trombonist Michael Dease, replaces the pianist and drummer, and adds an alto sax player Mike DiRubbo for some higher notes. The result is a somewhat richer and fuller sound. Nine of the eleven tunes are originals, with a Zappa composition and one by Robbie Robertson rounding out the set.

Tallitsch covers some of the same ground as he did on the last release, but here he emphasizes gospel and blues. Case in point, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” a classic piece of Americana in the hands of The Band, becomes a gospel showpiece in the hands of this band.  While the gospel influence was always there, Tallitsch really brings it to the front, even while sticking close to the melody. The style is revisited in the closing track, “Arches,” one of his own tunes. Tallitsch plays it light, sweet, and slow, with some lovely solo work by several of the band members. The tune has the same sad, downward drift as the “Midnight Cowboy Theme” (it took me a few minutes to recall what this reminded me of).  On the blues side, “Uncle Remus” takes us furthest into that style, with some delicious keyboard work by Brian Charette, while the Zappa/Duke song “Greasy Over Easy” delivers in similar fashion, with a bit of a soul twist.

Elsewhere, we hear a lot of fine tunes, some faster, some slower, each creating its own space and delivering a different view of the group’s work. “Passages,” the opener, gives everybody a quick solo in fast tempo, as if it were an overture to the rest of the album. “Slippery Rock” takes a slower pace with Tallitsch and DiRubbo trading off on their saxes.  “Border Crossing” lets the group sound nearly like a big band with saxes and trombone all playing in unison, and “Curmudgeon” does the same, but gives Michael Dease a nice chance to be featured with some soulful trombone. “Medicine Man” sounds like Paul Desmond is nearby. Nearly everywhere Brian Charette adds to the mix or provides short pithy solos that sometimes quote familiar tunes. Underneath it all is the fine rhythm section of Brendler and Ferber, anchoring the group strongly, but never ostentatiously so, and occasionally surfacing for a short feature. Sometimes I mention a favorite tune, but here I can’t. They’re all good.

All Together Now gives Tallitsch the opportunity to show off his arranging skills and melodic sensibilities, which are considerable. All of the musicians do an excellent job individually, but the great thing about this album is the ensemble feel.  While everyone gets their chances to solo, just as often two instruments are paired up, and the interplay between them creates fascinating textures throughout. Nobody dominates, and as a result, the title is an apt description of what goes on here. The only thing missing is the Beatles song.
Personnel:  Tom Tallitsch (tenor sax), Mike DiRubbo (alto sax), Michael Dease (trombone), Brian Charette (piano, organ), Peter Brendler (bass), Mark Ferber (drums).
Tracks: Passages, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Slippery Rock, Big Sky, Border Crossing, Curmudgeon, Uncle Remus, Medicine Man, Greasy Over Easy, Dunes, Arches.


Jeff Wanser



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Richard Kamins reviews Tom Tallitsch “All Together Now”…

Tenor saxophonist and composer Tom Tallitsch is also in CT this Friday (see below) and he, too, is celebrating the release of a new CD.  “All Together Now” is his 6th recording as a leader and the 3rd for Posi-Tone Records.   Fittingly, there are 6 musicians on the date; besides the leader, there’s Mike DiRubbo (alto saxophone), Michael Dease (trombone), Brian Charette (acoustic and electric pianos, organ), Peter Brendler (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums) – all but the drummer have issued albums on the label (DiRubbo and Charette are also CT natives!)

9 of the 11 tracks are Tallitsch originals and display a penchant for strong melodies plus lively arrangements. The first track, “Passages“, jumps right out of the gate with smart rhythmic changes and great blowing all around.  Ferber and Brendler lead the charge, the reeds and brass pick up the and all enjoy the thick cushion of piano chords from Charette. A pleasant surprise comes next with  the gospel-soaked “The Night The Drove Old Dixie Down“, a spotlight for Charette in that both his piano and organ sounds are integral to the texture and movement of the piece.  The leader’s tenor solo stays close to melody and the horns strongly respond in the background (make sure to pay attention Ferber’s brilliant drumming which is something you should always do).

The program contains 11 tracks, only one coming close to 6 minutes, yet the listener is bound to be fully satiated by the sounds.  This is no mere “blowing” session, each song has a solid, even singable, melody line.  Best of all, everyone gets a chance to be heard without the album turning into solo after solo.  That makes the disk feel more like a group effort as if Tallitsch made sure everyone stayed sharp.  For instance, the medium-tempo “Curmudgeon“, contains a bluesy melody line followed by short solos from both saxophonists and Dease; still, it’s the great work from the rhythm section that makes the song feel complete. Yes, these musicians are “pros” but even the most dedicated ones don’t always give their all.  No such issue here – even blues tunes such as “Greasy Over Easy” have a snap in tier swagger.  The CD closes with “Arches“, another piece with a gospel feel, a handsome melody, smart harmonies and more strong work from the rhythm section.  The electric piano, full bass notes and excellent brushes work set up the solos.  Bassist Brendler is oh-so-melodic in his short solo, setting up Charette’s short statement that leads to a soulful tenor spotlight while the alto and trombone   sway in the background.  The closing notes fade easily, a perfect close to an impressive session.

All Together Now” lives up to its name, 6 musicians gathering for 1 day in the studio and creating a “joyful noise.”  Post-Tone Records is celebrating its 20th year in a grand way, producing albums that are among the best producer Marc Free and engineer Nick O’Toole have sent our way – this just may be the best CD Tom Tallitsch has issued…so far.  To find out more, go to


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JazzTimes review of Michael Dease “Relentless”…

Michael Dease - Relentless cover


Michael Dease

 Like doo-wop, trad-jazz or rockabilly, big-band jazz is so closely associated with a bygone era that any musician testing its waters must find a way to transcend retro or just give in and drag out the charts from the swing era. Trombonist Michael Dease, on his debut big-band effort, transcends.

One way the bandleader—who’s led smaller combos and served as a prolific sideman—achieves that is by recruiting a stellar cast of contemporary players, each comfortable enough to comprise five percent of a team but also capable of stepping up to deliver a minute or two of compelling, bracing soloing. In addition to Dease, the band consists of five other trombonists (plus two others, including Wycliffe Gordon, guesting); five saxophonists (and another on a single track); seven trumpeters and a crack rhythm section: pianist Miki Hayama, bassist Linda Oh, drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. and Gwendolyn Burgett on percussion.

Dease is a dexterous traffic cop who knows precisely when to keep the ensemble swinging en masse and when to invite one of his chosen crewmembers to let go and blow. But the greater task at hand, at which arranger Dease and producer Marc Free excel, is how to shape the sound of a battery of horns to appeal to a modern audience. They do so by stressing the rich melodicism built into the compositions while allowing the musicians to go to town manipulating trickier rhythms and taking edgier solo turns.

“Two Bass Hit” eschews the angularity of both Miles’ and Dizzy’s interpretations but is in its own way even wilder. Randy Brecker’s “Roppongi” (with guest guitarist Andrew Swift) has more in common with Tower of Power than anything the classic big bands might’ve conjured. Of Dease’s own compositions, the title track’s loping airiness and the hard-bop intensity of “The Takeover” ensure that no one will ever confuse Relentless with a lost Glenn Miller session.




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SomethingElse features an exclusive track from Michael Dease “Relentless”…


Michael Dease - Relentless cover







Sometimes a cover song reveals a lot of the genius of the musician covering it. Michael Dease’s big band rendition of the Brecker Brothers’ “Roppongi” surely does that, but it also speaks loudly about the underappreciated ingenuity of the song’s composer, Randy Brecker.

The closing track from The Return of the Brecker Brothers (1990), it’s chock full of the dense Brecker Brothers’ funk and overflowing with chops from Randy and his tenor sax legend brother, Michael. It’s three or four discreet sections of different tempos and styles pasted together but somehow the song remain very coherent. Someone listening to the oroginal recording today might get a bit put off by the synth-laden late 80s production values that went along with all this inspired composing, arranging and performing, but not Dease.

Dease is well familiar with Randy Brecker and his music, having already covered his solo song “I Talk To The Trees” for 2010′s Grace and he goes to Brecker’s pen again with “Roppongi” for Dease’s first big band record, Relentless. The veteran of the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, the Charles Tolliver Big Band and Christian McBride’s big band know his stuff when it comes to jazz orchestration and it shows with his own jazz orchestra. What Dease saw in “Roppongi” was a hard swinging, big-band tune masquerading as a contemporary modern fusion-jazz song.

The arrangement that Dease uses doesn’t stray from the basic structure or vision of the song, but simply putting it into the hands of a big band featuring young luminaries like Sharel Cassity, Tim Green, Etienne Charles and Linda Oh places it in a natural environment. Dease’s crew pilots it through funk, Cuban salsa, swing and even rock phases (thanks to Andrew Swift’s electric guitar). The highlight is the extensive trading of fours between Dease’s boss trombone and the lively trumpet of Alex Norris.

Truth is, Michael Dease adds freshness and imagination to the tried-and-true big band format all over Relentless across songs both original and standard. His big band’s take on “Roppongi” breathes new life into a little-noticed Randy Brecker gem, too.

Relentless, Michael Dease’s first for Posi-Tone Records, goes on sale July 8, 2014. It’s well worth checking out.