New York trombonist Michael Dease has been making quite a name for himself in jazz circles. The New York-based musician/educator has performed as a sideman with high-profile ensembles like the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band and the Illinois Jacquet Big Band. Add to his resume the recently released Clarity, an impressive recording featuring Dease’s blistering trombone playing, composing and arranging.
Dease is technically proficient beyond his years- only twenty-four at the time of this recording. His command of the instrument allows for crisp and precise lines on up-tempo numbers ("One 4 Steve," "You Dig?," "Speak Low") and more lyrical expressions on ballads ("Lullaby For Rita," "Elusive") that encompass the entire range of the trombone.
As a composer, Dease writes clever, straight-ahead tunes that lend nicely to extended blowing. Stand-out tracks are "Mixed Feelings," featuring guest tenor saxophonist Victor Goines, the bouncy "Top of the Morning" and the well-orchestrated title track, arranged for a front-line of trombone, trumpet and saxophone.
Dease’s co-conspirators are all first-rate. Pianist Kris Bowers comps and solos with an inspired, aggressive edge. Bassist Matthew Heredia provides rock-solid support and inventive soloing. Drummers Marion Felder, Kenneth Salters and Mark Whitfield, Jr. take turns swinging hard. Veteran pianist Eric Reed raises the creative bar on three tracks.
Clarity is a strong release from an emerging talent. With trombone in hand, Dease seems poised to take the jazz world by storm.