A masterful night of jazz


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Trombonist Michael Dease was well armed with ample doses of creativity, gentility, humor, and swing when he joined the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra as the sextet opened its 10th concert season on Wednesday, October 30.

Dease, 37, is a busy young performer and educator. In addition to touring the world as a first-call player, he teaches music at Michigan State and runs a summer jazz camp in North Carolina. He also plays trumpet, saxophone and piano.

This evening with the NPJO's fine team of players.underscored his trombone mastery. The sextet includes tenor saxophonist and artistic director Lew Del Gatto, trumpeter Dan Miller, violinist Glenn Basham, pianist Jerry Stawski, bassist Kevin Mauldin and drummer Mike Harvey.

Together, they explored a handful of jazz standards, two Dease originals- and a little-heard treat from the early days of bebop.

Dease paid tribute to one of his own trombone heroes, the late J.J. Johnson with J.J.'s “Shortcake." He honored the modern jazz legacy of gone-too-soon trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who died last year at age 49, with a poignant version of one of Hargrove's favorite ballads, “Never Let Me Go," with just the rhythm section.

This performance of Del Gatto's arrangement of Harry Warren's “You're My Everything" included a bit of growling trombone in Dease's solo. The band's take on the Antonio Carlos Jobim's bossa nova “Triste" featured Del Gatto on flute and Miller on muted trumpet. It included a beautiful trumpet-trombone counterpoint segment after Mauldin's solo introduction. Basham's violin work enhanced the exotic bossa feel here.

“Brooklyn," the first of Dease's two originals, was named for his 1-year-old daughter. Here and there you could here snippets of the Frankie Valli hit “Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." Stawski dropped in a tasty quote from Freddie Hubbard's “Little Sunflower." He wrote the second tune, “Zanderfied," as a tip of the hat to longtime friend Jeffrey Zander, an insurance broker ho has been instrumental in the success of the Dease-run Jazz Institute at North Carolina's Brevard Music Center. The tune had an up-tempo “Killer Joe" feel.

The evening concluded with a burning version of bebop saxophonist Charlie Parker's 1949 composition “Cardboard," which has fallen into obscurity. In crafting this one, Bird put a fresh melody over the chord progressions of the 1941 pop song “Don't Take Your Love From Me." Dease and the sextet made it fresh and vibrant.

The NPJO's “All That Jazz" season at Artis-Naples' Daniels Pavilion includes performances with singer Carla Cook on November 20, guitarist Peter Bernstein on December 18, tenor saxophonist Jerry Weldon on January 15, vibraphonist Stefon Harris on February 12 and alto saxophonist Charles McPherson on April 22.The sextet digs into the music of Thelonious Monk on May 13.

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This story appears courtesy of Ken Franckling's Jazz Notes.
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