Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dan Dean: 251

Origin Arts
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 6.30.10
Buy CD: 251

I'd never heard of Dan Dean when I received this album, and the media release and liner notes provided little about his background; I therefore Googled him.

Although his contribution to this CD is as a bassist, Dean is a master of many skills. He creates and produces video commercials, digital “libraries” of complex instrumental disks and educational material related to various instruments.

And, oh yes, he plays the heck out of an electronic (not acoustic) bass.

The title of this album references the “root tones of the scales controlling the opening chords of 'Chopsticks' (and many other tunes).” Four different keyboard players support Dean: Kenny Werner, George Duke and Gil Goldstein on piano — the latter also on accordion — and Larry Goldings on the Hammond B3 organ.

They're all featured individually on these 11 tunes, so we effectively have a collection of bass/keyboard duets. But given the arrangements, and the artists' skills, the “whole” is much greater than that. Seven tracks are interpretations of great standards; the rest are jazz originals by Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, James Brown and George Duke.

Rarely have so few musicians produced so much groovy jazz! A lot of the credit goes to Dean; his skill on the electric bass is amazing. Because that instrument is held and played like a guitar, it's easier to achieve runs of notes at up-tempo meters, than is possible on an acoustic instrument.

This is an impressive album, and a lot of fun.

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