Thursday, May 19, 2016
Posi-Tone: a Double Dose of Dease + Spike's Enlightened Music
In the past nine months, he's released two new recordings for Posi-Tone Records, his second and third for the Los Angeles based label (his first was the delightful big band date titled "Relentless.") "Decisions" is a quintet date featuring the talents of Tim Green (alto saxophone on five tracks), Glenn Zaleski (piano), Rodney Whitaker (bass) and Ulysses Owens (drums), all leaders in their own right. The program is a delightful mix of seven originals and three "standards." Several of the pieces have political overtones in their titles including the handsome ballads "Trayvon" and Bernard Ighner's "Everything Must Change." The majority of the album swings with glee, from the shuffling opener "Grove's Grooves" to the funky "Jason's Gonna Get Ya" to the bluesy "Gorgeous Gwen" ( the blend of trombone and sax on the melody has a tinge of The Jazz Crusaders). Throughout, Owens and Whitaker keep the front line on there toes without forcing the issues while Zaleski impresses with both his support and his excellent solos. Dease has a such a attractive tone, even buttery at times, and his solos are so smart. He navigates through the rhythm section such lyrical composure on the Harry Warren/Joe Young classic "You're My Everything" and dances with delight through "The Big D." Green adds much on his appearances, the highlights being the expansive solo on "Right Place Wrong Time" and his high-flying turn through "Grove's Grooves."
"Decisions" is music that asks questions while reminding listeners of the joys of coming together for creative endeavors. Give the album several listens and the music will insinuate itself in your mind and soul - can't ask for more than that.
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.
For more information, go to www.michaeldease.com.
Here's a video introduction to the CD and to Michael Dease as a musician and human being:
One can hear from the get-go that this is an ensemble who have spent a good deal of time working together and listening to each other. When they "swing", as they do with a vengeance on Tadd Dameron's "Hot House" or gently on Wilner's "Iceberg Slim", the three musicians do so in service of the melody and with the joy of improvisation. The Ellington works, 1940's "Warm Valley" (revived on Duke's trio date with Max Roach and Charles Mingus) and 1938's "Gypsy Without a Song", have such expansive melodies, the former with its gentle melody that stretches over several verses and the latter with a Latin tinge and gentle swing. One of the more experimental works is the leader's "Monkey Mind", which starts gently but Wilner begins adding sheets of notes over chattering percussion and intermittent bass lines.
"Koan", as a musical meditation, works well in the early morning and late at night, windows open, the sounds of the outside either waking up and quietly disappearing. Spike Wilner has such a creative mind, teasing idea out if songs one might think have been wrung dry over the years. This is a great program to enjoy from start-to-finish and I heartily recommend that you do.
For more information, go to www.spikewilner.com.
Here's Spike Wilner in his home setting with Anthony Pinciotti and Tyler Mitchell from March of this year: