Monday, April 27, 2015

The Origins of Gene Lees’ The JazzLetter – The First Jazz Blog? [From the Archives]


© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.


The editorial staff at JazzProfiles subscribed to The JazzLetter for many years.

Its author, Gene Lees, who died in April, 2010 at the age of eighty-two, published The JazzLetter in monthly editions of 6-8 manuscript-sized, printed pages and mailed them to his subscribers.

Gene would often get behind in his efforts to put it out on a monthly basis and a clump of them would sometimes arrive in one envelope.

Who cared. Whenever one or more copies of The JazzLetter hit my mailbox, it marked a joyous occasion as I was about to be transported into some aspect of the world of Jazz and its makers by Gene Lees, whom Glen Woodcock of the Toronto Sun once labeled: “… the best writer on Jazz in the world today.”

Although, Tim Berners-Lee devised the first web browser and server at CERN and launched the World Wide Web in August, 1991, about ten years after Gene began publishing The JazzLetter in 1981the publication never made an appearance on the world-wide-web.

Irrespective of the fact that The JazzLetter never went digital, I have always thought of it as the first Jazz blog.

Perhaps after you read this account from Gene’s introduction to his Cats of Any Color compilation on the origins of The JazzLetter you, too, might agree that the publication deserves to be considered in this fashion.

Also, when you read Gene’s account of how it all began, you may get a sense of nostalgia at the thought that such a time will never come again.

© -  Gene Lees/Da Capo Press, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“Often it will be found that someone speaks a third language with the ac­cent of the second. My Spanish, for example, has a French accent. Gene Kelly spoke French with a slight Italian accent. He grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Philadelphia.

Over the years, I have also observed that anyone who has had two profes­sions practices the second with the disciplines and outlook of the first. You can see this in movie-makers. Directors who were first actors elicit fine work from their performers—for example, Richard Attenborough. Consider the miraculous performance he got from Robert Downey, Jr. as the English Charles Chaplin. Or the performances Robert Redford gets from actors, as in Ordinary People and A River Runs Through It. Or Sydney Pollack and Mark Rydell, both of whom had been actors, in any number of pictures.

Alfred Hitchcock, who early manifested a skill in things mechanical, went to work for a telegraph company, then broke into the film industry as a tide-card illustrator. His pictures were always visual, mechanical, and short on great acting, no matter the idolatry toward his pictures fashionable in film circles. He was quoted as saying that actors should be treated like cattle, and his movies look like filmed storyboards. David Lean began as a film editor, and though his films—The Bridge on the River Kwai - for example— reflect prodigious gifts for working with actors, they also reveal his first training in that they are magnificently, meticulously photographed and edited.


I was trained as an artist, but my first profession was journalism. I had been a newspaper reporter, editor, and foreign correspondent for ten years before I became the editor of Down Beat in April, 1959, and a thirst for factuality would stay with me. I looked the magazine over and sent a memo to staff members and contributors saying that its first duty was to be a good magazine, literate and readable. If it did not fulfill that obligation, it could not serve its subject matter well. I also urged a concern for factuality, in contrast to the opinion-mongering that comprised much, even most, of jazz criticism, and still does. To say something is exciting or boring or touching or disturbing is only to confess what excites, bores, touches, or disturbs you. It is not a fact about the work of art in question, it is a fact about the critic, a projection of his or her own character and experience.

I did what everyone did at Down Beat: I wrote record reviews. Project­ing your opinions in print is the fastest way in the world to alienate the vic­tims of your inescapable subjectivity. In any case, unless you are like Addison DeWitt in All About Eve and enjoy causing pain, writing criticism ain't your thing. So I fired myself as a record reviewer soon after joining the magazine. I have written very, very little jazz criticism, which is why I was in early years discomfited to see myself referred to as a jazz critic, later em­barrassed, and finally resigned to it.


My education in jazz came not from magazines and books but from studies of composition, piano (with Tony Aless, among others), and gui­tar—and from long, rich conversations in such places as Jim and Andy's bar in New York with Phil Woods, Gerry Mulligan, Ben Webster, Cole-man Hawkins, Hank d'Amico, Will Bradley, Jimmy McPartland, Lockjaw Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, J.J. Johnson, and many more. I found that jazz history, as it was generally accepted, was to a large extent a fiction that has been agreed upon, as Voltaire said of all history. It dawned on me that, since such founding figures as Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines were still with us, I had met nearly all the great jazz musicians who had ever lived, and knew some of them, such as Bill Evans and Woody Herman, intimately. At the same time, because of my activities as a lyricist, I met and in some cases came to know many of the major song­writers who had inspired and influenced me, including Howard Dietz, Arthur Schwartz, Harold Arlen, Johnny Green, Hoagie Carmichael, Mitchell Parrish, Harry Warren, and particularly Johnny Mercer, some­one else who became a close friend.

After leaving Down Beat toward the end of 1961, I settled in New York and devoted myself primarily to songwriting. I spent the early 1970s in Toronto, then settled in 1974 in Southern California, where I have re­mained ever since, the climate being one of its blandishments. By the end of the 1970s, my songs had been recorded by Mabel Mercer, Frank Sina­tra, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan (my dear, dear friend!), Ella Fitzgerald,Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Carmen McRae, Peggy Lee (another dear friend), and so many others that my royalties, at least in theory, made it possible for me to retire, and I tried. I soon found that I missed my friends, among them all the jazz musicians I had come to know since 1959.

On a morning in May, 1981, I sent a questionnaire to several hundred persons, asking whether I should start a letter—not a newsletter, giving record reviews, nightclub listings, and current news, but a letter on matters of interest to all of us. I specified that it would contain no advertising. Within a week, I had a mailbox full of letters urging me to do it, some of them containing checks. I realized that I was committed. Broadcaster Fred Hall and composer-pianist-arranger Roger Kellaway gave the Jazzletter its name. I still remember the list of early subscribers. It included Phil Woods, Gerry Mulligan, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Shelly Manne, Benny Carter, Jimmy Rowles, John Lewis, Art Farmer, Kenny Wheeler, Kenny Drew, Sahib Shihab, Rob McConnell, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mandel, Julius La Rosa, Jackie and Roy Kral, Robert Farnon, and Audrey Morris, such record-company executives as Charles Lourie, Bruce Lundvall, and Ken Clancy, and a number of critics and jazz historians, including Whitney Balliett, Doug Ramsey, Grover Sales, James Lincoln Collier, Philip Elwood, and the late Leonard Feather, as well as academics.

The Jazzletter addressed a list of subscribers almost all of whom I knew personally. It was written for musicians, dealing with matters that concern musicians—jazz musicians to a large extent but not exclusively. I did not de­sign it to exclude laymen, and indeed whenever technical discussions proved necessary, tried to make them as clear and brief as possible. But in general, the publication assumed a measure of knowledge in its readers. I asked gui­tarist and composer Mundell Lowe what he thought the limits of Jazzletter subject matter should be. He said, "Anything that is of interest to us"

And what was of acute interest to jazz musicians was the history of the music and its makers, whether one of the older players and the era he or she had lived through, or younger ones, anxious to know about the times they did not know. And given that I faced no limits in length, I was able to write extended pieces that simply would not be practical in most mag­azines for structural reasons. I soon found that I was recording the life stories, derived from extended interviews, of musicians who might de­serve book-length biographies but were unlikely to get them, the nature of publishing being what it is. I found myself writing what I came to think of as mini-biographies.

In time, Oxford University Press published four anthologies of these essays, each of them gathered loosely around a central theme. Cats of Any Color was the fourth of these collections. Cassell has published a fifth, Arranging the Score, Yale University Press is publishing a sixth, and a sev­enth is pending. I know of no other publication that has produced a comparable quantity of anthologized material. Two of the books received the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award.”

Thanks to the collective efforts of many Jazz bloggers, the spirit of The Jazzletter lives on today in a variety of digital formats.

But for those of us who looked forward to that thud hitting the front door mat announcing that Gene had sent out another batch of his inimitable Jazzletter essays, musings and commentaries, there will never be anything quite like it again.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Mingus, Balliett and Dinosaurs In The Morning [From The Archives]

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.


“Mingus has never had a substantial following, and it is easy to see why: he courts only himself and his own genius. A one-man clique, he invents his own fashions and discards them when they are discovered by others. The content of his compositions is often repellent; it can be ornery, sarcastic, and bad-tempered. His own overbearing, high-tension playing pinions its listeners, often demanding more than they can give.”
- Whitney Balliett, Jazz essayist, author and critic


Whitney Balliett, the dean of Jazz writers, at least as far as I’m concerned, never explains the title of the anthology of his essays collected from The New Yorker magazine and published in 1962 by the J.B. Lippincott Company of Philadelphia and New York as Dinosaurs In The Morning.


The meaning needs to be inferred from this excerpt from the piece of the same name that gives the book its title - Dinosaurs In The Morning.


“The best thing that ever happened to Jazz - the most evanescent of all arts - is the recording machine. Without this means of preservation, the music might simply have bumbled on a while as a minor facet of American life and then vanished.”


Vanished like the dinosaurs?


No recording machine - no Jazz?


The answer is most assuredly “Yes” for without the recording machine, Jazz, “... the most evanescent of arts,” could have vanished like the dinosaurs.


Instead, we can listen to Jazz recordings in the morning while sipping our favorite beverage which, I would imagine is far better than discovering dinosaurs in the morning through our breakfast nook window!


Copies of Dinosaurs In The Morning can still be had through online booksellers in various editions for reasonable sums of money and its 41 essays make for unsurpassed reading on the subject of Jazz.


Judge for yourself; here Whitney’s narrative on bassist Charles Mingus.


© -  Whitney Balliett, copyright protected; all rights reserved.


Mingus


“UNTIL 1939, when Jimmy Blanton appeared, the bass fiddle had occupied the position in jazz of a reliable tackle. It had, a decade before, replaced the tuba in the rhythm section, and its best practitioners—Pops Foster, Al Morgan, Wellman Braud, Milt Hinton, Walter Page, and John Kirby—had become adept at rigid timekeeping and at itemizing the chords of each tune. These bassists also boasted tones that could be felt and even heard in the biggest groups. But they rarely soloed, and, when they did, restricted themselves to on-the-beat statements that were mostly extensions of their ensemble playing. Blanton, who died in 1942, at the age of twenty-one, abruptly changed all this by converting the bass into a hornlike instrument that could be used both rhythmically and melodically. Since then, the bass has taken over the rhythmic burdens once carried by the pianist's left hand and by the bass drum, and it has added a new melodic voice to the ensemble. At the same time, a group of Blanton-inspired bassists have sprung up to meet these new duties, and have included such remarkable performers as Oscar Pettiford, Ray Brown, Red Mitchell, Wilbur Ware, Paul Chambers, Scott LaFaro, and Charlie Mingus.


All are first-rate accompanists and soloists, and all possess exceptional techniques. The youngest have even begun to wander toward the fenceless meadows of atonality. Chief among these bassists is Mingus, the greatest pizzicato player the instrument has had. He is also the first modern jazz musician who has successfully combined virtuosity, the revolutions brought about by Charlie Parker, and the lyricism of such pre-bebop performers as Ben Webster, the boogie-woogie pianists, and Billie Holiday.


Like many contemporary jazz musicians, Mingus is far more than an instrumentalist. He is a formidable composer-arranger and a beneficent martinet who invariably finds, hires, and trains talented but unknown men. A big, loosely packed man of thirty-eight, with a handsome face and wary, intelligent eyes, Mingus is an indefatigable iconoclast. He is a member of no movement and vociferously abhors musical cant. He denounces rude audiences to their faces. (A recent scolding, administered in a New York night club, was tape-recorded on the spot, and has been printed in an anthology of jazz pieces. It is a heartening piece of hortatory Americana.) He unabashedly points out his colleagues' shams and weaknesses in his album-liner notes or in crackling letters to magazines like Down Beat. When tongue and pen fail him, he uses his fists. Mingus compresses all this dedication into his playing, which is daring, furious, and precise. Despite the blurred tonal properties of the bass, Mingus forces a kaleidoscope of sounds from it. However, much of the time he uses a penetrating tone that recalls such men as Foster and Braud, and that is especially effective in his accompanying, where it shines through the loudest collective passages. (It sometimes shines so brightly that Mingus, in the manner of Sidney Bechet, unintentionally becomes the lead instrument.)


Mingus's supporting work is an indissoluble mixture of the rhythmic and the melodic. By seemingly playing hob with the beat— restlessly pulling it forward with double-time inserts, rapid tremolos, or staccato patterns, reining it in with whoa-babe legato figures, or jumping stoutly up and down on it—he achieves the rhythmic locomotion of drummers like Sid Catlett and Jo Jones. Yet he carefully fits these devices to each soloist, lying low when a musician is carrying his own weight, and coming forward brusquely and cheerfully to aid the lame and the halt. It is almost impossible to absorb all of Mingus at a single hearing. In addition to carrying out his rhythmic tasks, he simultaneously constructs attractive and frequently beautiful melodic lines. These may shadow a soloist, or they may be fashioned into counter-lines that either plump the soloist up or accidentally upstage him. Mingus is a dangerous man to play with.


He is also an exhilarating soloist. Because he is the sort of virtuoso who has long since transcended his instrument, his finest solos are an eloquent, seemingly disembodied music. The pizzicato bass was not designed for the timbres Mingus extracts from it. He may hit a note as if it were a piece of wood, getting a clipped thup. He may make a note reverberate or, rubbing his left hand quickly down the fingerboard, turn it into an abrasive glissando. Sometimes he fingers with the nails of his left hand, achieving a rattling sound. Or he may uncoop a string of whispered notes that barely stir the air. He will start a solo in a medium-tempo blues with a staccato, deck-clearing phrase, cut his volume in half, play an appealing blues melody that suggests the 1928 Louis Armstrong, step up his volume, line out a complex, whirring phrase that may climb and fall with a cicadalike insistency for a couple of measures, develop another plaintive a-b-c figure, improvise on it rhythmically, insert a couple of sweeping smears, and go into an arpeggio that may cover several octaves and that, along the way, will be decorated with unexpected accents.


Mingus's solos in ballad numbers are equally majestic. He often plays the first chorus almost straight, hovering behind, over, and in front of the melody—italicizing a note here, adding a few notes there, falling silent now and then to let a figure expand—and finishing up with an embossed now-listen-to-this air. There are only half a dozen jazz soloists skilled enough for such complacency.


Mingus the bassist is indivisible from Mingus the leader. He conducts with his bass, setting the tempos and emotional level of each tune with his introductory phrases, toning the ensemble up or down with his volume or simply with sharp stares, and injecting his soloists with countless c.c.s of his own energy. His methods of composition are equally dictatorial and are a fascinating variation of Duke Ellington's. Mingus has explained them in a liner note:


My present working methods use very little written material. I "write" compositions on mental score paper, then I lay out the composition part by part to the musicians. I play them the "framework" on piano so that they are all familiar with my interpretation and feeling and with the scale and chord progressions. . . . Each man's particular style is taken into consideration. They are given different rows of notes to use against each chord but they choose their own notes and play them in their own style, from scales as well as chords, except where a particular mood is indicated. In this way I can keep my own compositional flavor ... and yet allow the musicians more individual freedom in the creation of their group lines and solos.


Most of his recent work can be divided into three parts—the eccentric, the lyrical, and the hot. His eccentric efforts have included experiments with poetry and prose readings and attempts to fold non-musical sounds (whistles, ferryboats docking, foghorns, and the like) into his instrumental timbres. The results have been amusing but uneasy; one tends to automatically weed out the extracurricular effects in order to get at the underlying music. The lyrical Mingus is a different matter. His best ballad-type melodies are constructed in wide, curving lines that form small, complete etudes rather than mere tunes. Their content dictates their form, which resembles the ragtime structures of Jelly Roll Morton or the miniature concertos of Duke Ellington, both of whom Mingus has learned from. But Mingus has been most successful with the blues and with gospel or church-type music. The pretensions that becloud some of his other efforts lift, leaving intense, single-minded pieces. More important than the use of different tempos and rhythms in these compositions, which repeatedly pick the music up and put it down, are their contrapuntal, semi-improvised ensembles, in which each instrument loosely follows a melodic line previously sketched out by Mingus. The results are raucous and unplanned, and they raise a brave flag for a new and genuine collective improvisation.


Mingus’s most recent records—"Mingus Ah Urn" (Columbia), "Blues & Roots" (Atlantic), and "Mingus Dynasty" (Columbia)—offer some spectacular things. Most of the compositions are by Mingus and are played by nine- or ten-piece groups (a size beyond the budgets of most of the offbeat night clubs in which Mingus generally performs), which employ his collective techniques with considerable aplomb, thus pointing a way out of the box that the big band built itself into before its decline. Mingus delivers a fireside chat on the problem in the notes to the second Columbia record:


The same big bands with four or five trumpets, four or five trombones, five or six saxophones, and a rhythm section . . . still [play] arrangements as though there were only three instruments in the band: a trumpet, a trombone, and a saxophone, with the other . . . trumpets . . . trombones . . . and saxophones there just to make the arrangement sound louder by playing harmonic support. . . . What would you call this? A big band? A loud band? A jazz band? A creative band?


I’d write for a big sound (and with fewer musicians) by thinking out the form that each instrument as an individual is going to play in relation to all the others in the composition. This would replace the old-hat system of passing the melody from section to section . . . while the trombones run through their routine of French horn chordal sounds. ... I think it's time to discard these tired arrangements and save only the big Hollywood production introduction and ending which uses a ten or more note chord. If these ten notes were used as a starting point for several melodies and finished as a linear composition—with parallel or simultaneous juxtaposed melodic thoughts—we might come up with some creative big-band jazz.


The Atlantic record provides several first-rate demonstrations of this approach. On hand with Mingus are Jackie McLean and John Handy, alto saxophones; Booker Ervin, tenor saxophone; Pepper Adams, baritone saxophone; Jimmy Knepper and Willie Dennis, trombones; Horace Parlan or Mal Waldron, piano; and Dannie Richmond, drums. There are six numbers, all blues by Mingus. One of the best is the fast "E's Flat Ah's Flat Too." The baritone saxophone opens by itself with a choppy ostinato figure, and is joined, in madrigal fashion, by the trombones, which deliver a graceful, slightly out-of-harmony riff. The drums, bass, and piano slide into view. The trombones pursue a new melody, the baritone continues its subterranean figure, and the tenor saxophone enters, carrying still another line. Several choruses have elapsed. Then one of the alto saxophones slowly climbs into a solo above the entire ensemble, which, with all its voices spinning, becomes even more intense when Mingus starts shouting at the top of his voice, like a growl trumpet. Solos follow, giving way to the closing ensemble, which pumps off into twelve straight choruses of rough, continually evolving improvisations on the shorter opening ensemble. Near the end, Mingus starts bellowing again, and then everything abruptly grows sotto-voce. The trombones dip into a brief melodic aside, and the piece closes in a maelstrom, with each instrument heading in a different direction. New tissues of sound emerge in this number and all the others at each hearing—a shift in tempo, a subtle theme being carried far in the background by a saxophone, a riff by the trombones that is a minor variation on one used in the preceding chorus.


The Columbia records, which include eighteen numbers (all but two by Mingus) and pretty much the same personnel, are not as headlong. "Mingus Ah Um" has a couple of ballads, more blues, and, most important, generous amounts of the satire that is present in almost everything Mingus writes. This quality is most noticeable in "Fables of Faubus," which concentrates on two themes—an appealing and rather melancholy lament, and a sarcastic, smeared figure, played by the trombones in a pompous, puppet like rhythm. At one point, the two melodies—one bent-backed, the other swaggering—are played side by side; the effect is singular. Mingus's needling is more subdued in pieces on Lester Young ("Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"), Ellington ("Open Letter to Duke"), and Charlie Parker ("Bird Calls"). But it emerges again in a delightful twitting of Jelly Roll Morton, called "Jelly Roll," which manages to suggest both the lumbering aspects of Morton's piano and his gift for handsome melodies. "Mingus Dynasty" has pleasant, reverent reworkings of a couple of Ellington numbers; a somewhat attenuated selection called "Far Wells, Mill Valley,' written in three sections for piano, vibraphone, flute, four saxophones, trumpet, trombone, bass, and drums; and a fresh version of one of Mingus's gospel numbers, "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting,' this one called "Slop."


Mingus has never had a substantial following, and it is easy to see why: he courts only himself and his own genius. A one-man clique, he invents his own fashions and discards them when they are discovered by others. The content of his compositions is often repellent; it can be ornery, sarcastic, and bad-tempered. His own overbearing, high-tension playing pinions its listeners, often demanding more than they can give. In happier days, Mingus's music might have caused riots.”


Here’s one that you don’t hear everyday: a video on which The Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra performs Charles Mingus’ Bird Feathers.”




Saturday, April 25, 2015

"Where's The Melody" By Martin Williams [From the Archives]

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.


"A short, model primer on jazz, in which Mr. Williams triumphantly makes a difficult subject seem difficult and absolutely comprehensible. He spells out in an even, shoulder-to-shoulder manner the various kinds of improvisation, the places of the composer and arranger, jazz rhythms, and the like, and along the way he carefully knocks down those distracting and divisive genre terms 'swing/ 'Dixieland/ and 'bebop' by choosing illustrations from every walk of jazz."
-THE NEW YORKER

". . . a remarkable performance: concise, lucid, and mercifully free of fustian proselytizing. In the opening section, Williams, primarily through the analysis of key available recorded solos, clarifies the basic ways in which jazzmen improvise and the diverse functions of the composer-arranger in jazz.
The book, however, is more than a grammar. Jettisoning the traditional romanticized approach to jazz history by region and river, Williams places the evolution of the language in much more useful perspective by describing the changes in jazz made by its major innovators, from Louis Armstrong to Ornette Coleman."
- Nat Hentoff, BOOKWEEK

I can’t believe I still own a copy of Martin Williams’ Where’s The Melody: A Listener’s Guide to Jazz [New York: Minerva Press, 1963].

Dogged-eared with paper that is yellowing and book spine glue that’s hardening and cracking, it’s been loaned out so many times that it is a miracle that it ever made it back to my bookshelf.

One of the best primer on the process of making Jazz ever written, I thought it might be fun to share the book’s Introduction and Opening Chapter with you on these pages.

© -  Martin Williams, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

INTRODUCTION:
"An American Art"

If we know anything about jazz at all, we have probably heard that it is supposed to be an art—our only art according to some; "America's contribution to the arts/' according to certain European commentators. It has also the kind of prestige that goes with praise from the "classical" side of the fence. One of the first men to recognize the artistic qualities of jazz was the outstanding Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet, who in 1919 wrote a tribute to the great clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet, adding that perhaps tomorrow the whole world would be moving along his road. And in 1965 the American composer-critic Virgil Thompson said that "jazz is the most astounding spontaneous musical event to take place anywhere since the Reformation/.”

Jazz has its special publications, both here and abroad, its own journalists, reviewers, critics, historians, and scholars. Also, as most of us are aware, our State Department is willing to export jazz to answer for our cultural prestige abroad. Yet here at home, this "American art" is the subject of certain ignorance and certain misunderstandings.

It is possible to approach jazz in several ways. It is more than possible—it is in a sense almost mandatory—to consider jazz as an aspect of Negro American life and of the far-reaching and little understood effect of Negro-American life on American life in general. Jazz is, of course, a product of Negro-American culture, and that means that it represents also a unique coming together of African and European musical traditions.

It is also possible to treat jazz at second hand, as it has influenced our other music. The results of this approach might surprise some of us, for there is hardly a corner of American music that has not been touched somehow by jazz. It has touched most corners of music in Europe as well. To give one rather unexpected example, most of the trumpet players in our symphony orchestras, whether they are performing Bach or Bar-tok, Grieg or Gershwin, play with a slight vibrato (literally, a vibration to their trumpet sound) that they are not supposed to have, because in the past jazz musicians have generally used one. The symphonists have simply picked it up, some of them perhaps unconsciously.

It is  not surprising that all American  popular music, and some American concert music as well, were once commonly referred to as "jazz,” because the influence of jazz and of pre-jazz Afro-American music is everywhere in our musical life — on Broadway, in musical films, in the hotel dance band, in the "hit parade," in the concert hall. And, in one form or another, this influence has been there for over seventy years. So apparently "square" a popular song as Dancing in the Dark would not have been written without the powerful and pervasive effect of the musical force we call "jazz."

Jazz has also been treated through the biographies of its players, and some writers have treated jazzmen as what they are—creative people, most often functioning as popular entertainers. But jazzmen have also been treated as colorful old characters or as pathetic, aging men, unworthy of the callous caprice with which a delinquent showbiz has shunted them aside. It is possible, after all, for the most interesting of men, or even the most colorful of old characters, to be involved in an activity that need not detain us for its own sake. We might appreciate the personal maturity of a shop steward without being interested in owning a handbook on union organization at the local level or one on the processing of auto parts on a modern assembly line.

However, jazz is a music, and it is worthy of our attention as a music. Its musical achievements are quite high, perhaps higher than those of any other so-called "folk" or "popular" music in human history. Undoubtedly the musical level of jazz would have had to be high before it could have exerted such a strong and continuing influence upon other musics. But jazz music itself is much more interesting than the subject of its influence. It has a life of its own, growing, developing, and finding its own way, taking what it needs from the European tradition and adding something of its own at each step. And, as the years pass, jazz behaves less and less like a "popular" commercial music, subject to the fads of the moment, and more and more like what we are apt to think of (rightly or wrongly) as an "art music."

Let us assume in looking at jazz that we know little or nothing about the techniques of music and little or nothing about jazz and its history.

We will assume we know little about jazz history because we want to look at it from a musical standpoint, and because very little that we can appreciate has been written on it from that standpoint. And we will assume that we don't know much about music, because many of us don't.
But perhaps lack of a detailed musical background is an advantage. Jazz has taught itself, so to speak. Jazz musicians have often taught
themselves and the music as a whole has wended its selective way, almost on its own, through the techniques of European music. If we were to study music, we would of course study a system largely deduced from practice, a theory derived from what the great European composers have actually done when they wrote. But sometimes this musical system and theory applies to jazz only approximately, only insofar as jazz musicians have borrowed it, transmuted it, and used it in their own way. So in listening to a partly self-taught music, we shall probably have the gods on our side if we become self-taught listeners.

We do not learn to listen theoretically or in the abstract, of course, and almost all the comments in this book are attached to specific recordings. We shall begin by going directly to the crux of the matter, to the jazz musician as he plays combinations and sequences of notes that sound sometimes familiar, sometimes only vaguely familiar, and sometimes not familiar at all. And we shall try to understand how] jazz musicians play, what they do with a melody; how much they improvise, make up as they go along, and how much they work out ahead of time; and the kind of musical logic involved in their way of playing.

There is, after all, little point in worrying about the history of an art or the biographies of its players until we have some familiarity with the art itself. As an introduction to how jazz players play, we will look in the first section of this book, "Where's the Melody?" at what they do with more or less familiar popular songs. Then we will turn to an important original musical form that has been used by jazzmen of all styles and periods, the form called "The Blues.' With these basic forms and practices in mind, we can examine "Eight Recorded Solos" in more careful detail.

Having been thus introduced to the work of the jazz soloist, we can turn, in the section called "What Does a Composer Do?" to the jazz composer-arranger, the man who provides the player with basic material or who revises material he finds in the American popular repertory. The composer-arranger orchestrates; he gives the musicians in large and small ensembles written (or sometimes memorized) parts to play and he assigns the soloists space and duration in which to improvise. A soloist is responsible for his portion of a performance; a composer-arranger for the effect of the whole.

In these four introductory sections we have deliberately avoided chronology and avoided the sometimes careless catch-phrases of styles and schools and periods of jazz. The things that Louis Armstrong and Thelonious Monk have in common as players are more important and instructive than differences in the way they make music. Teddy Wilson, a pianist who first rose to prominence in the mid-Thirties, in those days took the same basic approach to improvised invention as did Charlie Parker, the revolutionary figure of the mid-Forties. And the music of the pianist and leader from the "swing period," Count Basie, taught the modernist John Lewis as much as did Charlie Parker's music— perhaps more.

Having examined the basics of jazz this far, we are now in a position to look at its musical history in "Last Trip Up the River." From a musical standpoint that history is made up of the contributions of certain major
jazz players who renew the basic language of the music periodically, men like Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker, and of certain major jazz composers, men like Duke Ellington, who periodically give larger synthesis and summary and form to the music.

After paying this much attention to the music itself, it is perhaps time to have accounts of the players at work on the scene—in nightclubs, in studios, and in private rehearsals. Thus, the second part of this book describes a nightclub evening of a pianist-composer, "Monk at the Five Spot"; a record date by vibraharpist Milt Jackson and a brass ensemble, "Recording with 'Bags'"; another recording session by a Mississippi blues singer of the old school, "Big Joe in the Studio"; and a rehearsal by some of the men who are involved in the avant-garde with "Jimmy Giuffre at Home.”'

The final part of this book, "Comment by a Listener," represents an effort to return to the music and its musicians with the knowledge so far acquired. In comments (some brief and some more comprehensive) on figures like Horace Silver, Billie Holiday, and Roy Eldridge, I have expanded on some of the points of jazz history described in the first part of the book and have tried to show, in a more or less casual sampling, how some exceptional musicians have developed the ideas of the great figures and have also made contributions of their own. I have also dealt with the work of some less creative figures who water down and popularize the musical ideas of others. I have used as examples some recorded performances which do not seem to me successful; the value in this is not in pointing the finger at failure (or my idea of failure) but rather in discussing how and why performances may fail. Finally, I have commented on recent developments and the jazz avant-garde as exemplified by Ornette Coleman.

I have not tried in this book to disguise my enthusiasm for jazz and for most of the players and performers I have discussed. But I have tried not to include too many of my own specific emotional responses to the musicians and their work. My purpose in this book has been to clear the way, to help listeners discover their own responses by putting them more directly in touch with the music itself. I have suggested my own feelings about jazz, I trust, largely as a means to such an end.

Finally, I think that each reader should undertake a book of this sort at his own pace—even at his own leisure—and that for some a gradual alternation of reading and listening can be the most rewarding. With that purpose in mind, I have included suggestions for a "Basic Library of Jazz" and have, in various sections, added "Record Notes" which list representative works of the artists discussed. The reader will, I hope, take it from there. …


Where's the Melody?

Let us assume that we are following two men as they enter a jazz nightclub or arrive, a few minutes late, at a jazz concert. One of them is an avid fan, an insider who has been following the music enthusiastically for years. His friend is not an insider; he is curious and sympathetic but a little puzzled. As they move inside the club or concert hall, the music is underway. The novice turns to the insider and asks, "What are they playing, do you know?"

The master replies, 'That's A Foggy Day"

At this point we can discern puzzlement, and perhaps despair, on the face of our novice. He knows perfectly well what A Foggy Day in London Town sounds like, and he hears nothing whatever like its melody coming from the musicians in front of him. Yet his friend is sure that it's A Foggy Day.
Jazz must be some kind of musical puzzle.

In effect, our novice has asked a prevalent question, "Where's the melody?" Or, to put it more crudely, "What are those musicians doing up there?" It is a question that is considered so square by some jazz fans, and even some musicians, that they refuse to answer—or even hear it. Yet I think it is a perfectly valid question, and answering it can be enlightening. For what those musicians are "doing up there" is not very obscure. It is not wholly unprecedented in the Western European music from which American music partly derives. And it is certainly no kind of musical game or puzzle.

Most of us probably know that jazz musicians make variations on a theme and that these variations are often improvised, invented on the spot as they play. For many people the primary quality in jazz is its rhythm—jazz is a particular rhythmic way of playing music. And anyone who has ever watched a group of jazz fans will be led to suspect that more than a few of them are responding to jazz rhythm—and very little else. There is nothing invalid about such a response, for its particular way of handling rhythm is indeed one of the unique things and one of the most compelling things about jazz music. But on the other hand, jazz rhythm, on the surface at least, is a readily recognizable quality. For our novice it is probably the thing that for him makes jazz jazz. He hears it, he feels it, and he says, "That's jazz." He may not always be right and he may not sense the fine details of whether the musicians are handling jazz rhythms well (that is, whether they are "swinging"), but he will be right most of the time.

Let's take a familiar popular song, which is what jazzmen do about half the time. There is nothing in the popular song that necessarily makes it jazz. It may have been influenced by jazz, even heavily influenced, as most American popular music has. But if a jazz musician plays it, he will play it with jazz rhythm. He will make it "swing/' give it a particular kind of momentum and movement. Thus, a jazz musician has already made a rhythmic variation on a piece by performing it at all. But so far he has given us no problems, for he has used the familiar melody in a recognizable way— let us say it is A Foggy Day or Pennies from Heaven or Embraceable You or any of thousands of American popular songs that are familiar to most of us and that are commonly used by jazz musicians.

Almost any jazz performance of familiar pieces like those will have at least an opening chorus based on the familiar melody itself. However, many jazz musicians use the melody not just for their opening statements, but as a basis of everything they do. There are players from every style and school of jazz who play that way; if you came in in the middle of one of their performances you would probably know right away what they were playing.
But such performances are not a matter of playing the same thing over and over again. These players make variations. For example, they will embellish the melody in various ways: they will add decorative notes and phrases, they will fill in in places where the melody comes to rest, and they will make slight changes in the notes as written.

At the same time they may improvise with the harmony of a piece (particularly if they are pianists) altering the simple chords that you and I would find on a piece of sheet music and even adding to the chords.

Now, of course, these things can be done badly. Some decorations can be cluttering and affected. The point of the melodic embellishments and of the richer harmony is to enhance the piece, to bring out its good qualities or modify its poor ones, and, at best, to discover hidden qualities and make a better piece of music of it. The great master of this particular embellishment approach to jazz improving was the pianist Art Tatum whose additions and fills were often dazzling, and whose sense of rich, improvised harmony was probably the most developed that our popular music has ever seen.

But besides filling out and elaborating the melody, a jazz musician can subtract from it, can reduce it to a kind of outline with fascinating musical experience thereby. Thelonious Monk,  because of his exceptional and subtle sense of rhythm, can take even a silly popular ditty and make it sound like a first-rate composition for piano — his version of You Took the Words Right Out of My Heart is a good example, or, to take a better song, his rephrasing of I Should Care.

Another player who uses this melodic approach to variations is Erroll Garner. And there are horn players, particularly from older generations, who are excellent at this kind of paraphrase of familiar melodies.

The greatest of all is Louis Armstrong, who can work with good popular material like I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues and improve it, or who can work with poor material like That's My Home and make it sound like deathless melody.

Thus a great deal of jazz variation is recognizably made on a familiar melody, and there are players from all styles and schools who use this approach. They may elaborate the melody, they may decorate it, or they may reduce it and simplify it (basically, these are what a classicist would call kinds of "melodic variation"), and they may re-harmonize it. But it is — always there somewhere. The art lies in how well they transmute it, in how good a paraphrase they come up with while transforming what was written.

Now let's go back to our jazz fan and his novice friend who were entering the club or concert. Let's assume that now they are comfortably in their seats, that the Miles Davis ensemble is performing, and that they begin Bye Bye, Blackbird. In the first chorus of this piece our novice would hear a transmutation of a familiar, perhaps appealing, but obviously and deliberately lightweight popular ditty from the Twenties. He will realize that there is indeed a sea change taking place, however, for although Davis' trumpet is keeping recognizably to the written melody, he has transformed it, making it a kind of buoyant dirge. Then, in Davis' second chorus, there suddenly seems to be no more Bye Bye, Blackbird. What is going on?

What is going on is that Miles Davis is offering a new melody, one which he is improvising on the spot. This melody does continue the mood and the musical implications he was sketching in his first chorus, but it offers some very new ideas of melody.

Davis is using as his guide for this new melody what we may call an "outline" or "framework" of Bye Bye, Blackbird. Technically speaking, he is using what musicians call the “chord changes, the harmonic understructure of Bye Bye, Blackbird as the basis for this melody of his own. (Classicists would call this a harmonic variation, incidentally.)

The way to listen to him now is to listen not for something we already know or have already heard, but for the music that Miles Davis is making as we hear him. If we also hear, or sense unconsciously, that "outline," that related chord structure the player is using as his guide, fine. But we don't have to. Jazz is not a musical game or puzzle.

Sometimes jazz musicians will a familiar structure, a familiar set of chord changes from a standard popular song, without using the theme melody at all, even for their opening chorus. They simply invent, from the very beginning, without any theme statement or paraphrase. Classic examples are Lester Young's 1944 version of These Foolish Things and Charlie Parker's Embraceable You. In each case the player is using the familiar harmonic outline for his guide — but not necessarily for ours. Again, jazz variation is not a guessing game or a puzzle. Where's the melody? Well, again, the melody is the one that Lester Young or Charlie Parker is making up, the one he is playing. It is not something we have heard before; it may even seem to be like nothing we have heard before. It is what he is playing. Hear it, enjoy it. And hear it well, for it may not exist again.

Similarly, jazz musicians sometimes introduce their improvising with new themes, written or memorized, which are also patterned to old chord structures.  Thus, Ornithology takes its outline from the How High The Moon; Count Basie’s Roseland Shuffle came from Shoeshine Boy; Moten Swing came from You’re Driving' Me Crazy; and there are probably at least two thousand jazz originals, from Sidney Bechet's Shag through Ornette Coleman's Angel Voice, based on the chords to Gershwin's I Got Rhythm. An obvious reason for this is that the new themes have a more jazzlike melodic character than the popular songs which were their harmonic origin.

Thus, there are three kinds of variations—those that involve rhythm, which are intrinsic in jazz performances, as we have seen; those that involve embellishing or paraphrasing a written melody, either decorating it or subtracting from it or both; and those that involve the invention of new melodies within a harmonic outline. They are all found, alone or more often in combination, in all styles and schools of jazz except the most recent.

At this point, let's try a summary by example. Let us assume that we play a little bit of piano and read a little bit of music. We are attracted to a particular popular song and purchase a piece of sheet music for that song to try it out on the parlor spinet. The sheet music will probably present the song in a fairly simple manner. The right-hand piano part, the treble, will give its melody. The left-hand part, the bass, will give simple chords that fit that melody; usually the chords given on sheet music are simple, and often they are quite simple. We take the piece home and play it over a few times until we've got it, as written down, fairly smoothly.

For most people this is the end of the matter. They have learned to play the song as the sheet music presents it. But let us assume that there is a jazz musician inside us and he takes over. The first step would be to play the piece with jazz rhythm. Automatically, this will mean at least some changes in the values of the notes and some personal interpretations of the accents. We have begun to make the piece "swing." Actually, an authentic "swing" is not an easy matter, but let's assume we're getting one fairly well.

Incidentally, in doing this we have discovered that making a piece of music "swing" has nothing to do with playing it fast or loud. It is a matter of giving it a particular kind of rhythm. It can be done slowly and quietly. (Actually, it is very difficult to swing at extremely slow tempo or at extremely fast tempo—but that technicality needn't detain us now.)

Now let's say that under the impetus of that swing and its unique momentum, we begin to try changing certain of the melody notes more boldly. What we have already changed suggests more changes, and we extend some, we shorten others, we leave out some, we add others. We begin to get a different piece of music. At the same time, perhaps we hear more interesting harmonies for the left hand. We change a few of the chords to make them richer, and, in passing, we perhaps add a few appropriate tones that weren't there.

Now, the final step: suppose we gradually diminish the original right-hand part—the treble, the melody notes—altogether. We keep the left-hand part (or our version of it) and with the right hand we make up a new melody part that fits that left-hand part.

It used to be said that modern jazzmen, of the generation of the Forties, began the business of writing new themes to old structures and of inventing new solo melodies to chords alone. But this is obviously untrue. It is untrue of the blues form, as we shall see. Furthermore, our example of Moten Swing comes from 1932, and there are earlier examples of jazz originals with their chords borrowed from, let's say, After You've Gone, or I Ain't Got Nobody, or Sweet Sue, or a dozen others. And, almost all of the great players of the late Thirties—men like pianist Teddy Wilson; tenor saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, and Lester Young; alto saxophonists Johnny Hodges and Benny Carter; guitarist Charlie Christian —did much of their playing on chord structures alone, with little or no reference to a theme. Indeed, even earlier players were capable of it, and there are many recorded examples of "non-thematic" variations, of variations that invent original melodies, by Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, Jack Teagarden, Sidney Bechet, and even by Bunk Johnson whose style dates from the early days of New Orleans jazz.

Only the youngest players have broken away from using either the melody of a piece or its chords as direct guides for making their variations.

A good paraphrase of a melody by a good jazz musician is frequently quite superior to its point of departure, the original popular song in the standard repertory. And a good melodic invention by a great jazz musician is a piece of spontaneous composition that may be miles ahead of its point of departure. 1 would not denigrate George Gershwin's achievements; he was one of our best popular composers— indeed, one of our best musicians. But Gershwin was usually writing songs, fairly simple melodies intended to be sung, usually by relatively untrained voices. And Charlie Parker's recorded variations on Gershwin's Embraceable You and Lady Be Good are instrumentally brilliant in a way that Gershwin's songs are not and were not intended to be.

However, Parker, like most great jazzmen, was also a melodist. He was a great instrumental melodist when judged by quite exacting musical standards. When we remember that Parker (again, like most great jazzmen) was a player and did his "composing" as he played, by improvisation, then we realize how astonishing his achievement was.

And so, we come back again to our question and our answer. Where's the melody? The melody is the one the player is making. Hear it well, for it probably will not exist again. And it may well be extraordinary.”

Friday, April 24, 2015

Michael Dees - "The Dream I Dreamed"

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.


"Michael could always sing wonderfully in the tradition. And now, it's a
real pleasure to hear him writing in the tradition. We applaud them both."
Alan and Marilyn Bergman


"His words and his music make a promise to us. His voice keeps it."
Arthur Hamilton


"Michael has spent his career singing other people's songs and making them sound better. This time around, Michael is singing his own songs and they sound great. Congrats, Michael!"
Johnny Mandel


In current Jazz Circles, there are two people whose opinion I’ve come to have a high regard for: Graham Carter, the owner-operator at JazzedMedia Records and Holly Cooper of Mouthpiece Music Publicity and Marketing.


So when I found out that both were associated with The Dream I Dreamed,  vocalist Michael Dees’ new CD which is due out on JazzedMedia Records [JM 1071] on May 12, 2015, I took notice despite the fact I was only indirectly aware of Michael’s singing.


Boy am I glad I did because as Holly and her team at Mouthpiece Music have commented about Michael: “Dees is a consummate singer who doesn't need superfluous embellishments to convey the essence of a song. His style invokes the best of the male jazz vocalist tradition, and his compositions are highly reminiscent of the Great American Songbook. His melodies have a lyrical quality that stays with you, and his lyrics are smart, sensitive and cohesive.


Dees is accompanied by a powerhouse band, each with a long resume of recordings and performances both as leaders and as sidemen with some of the biggest names in music.


Consisting of 14 fourteen original compositions by Michael Dees. The Dream I Dreamed is the work of an experienced, confident performer who deserves the wide public attention due a superb artist.”


What is particularly impressive about Michael’s singing is its poise and control. He doesn’t make the listener work at it; he just takes you there. Whatever the feeling that he is trying to convey - love, sadness, sorrow disappointment, happiness, joyousness - Michael brings it across and puts the listener in his music.


Like a poet reading rhyme or an author speaking a narrative or an actor inferring a storyline through gesture and persona, Michael is a professional singer who creates and experience for the listener through his music.


What Michael Dees does is tell stories through lyrics and music and he does so in such a convincing fashion that you want them to go on forever.


Michael Dees is an accomplished artist who has been honing his art for almost half a century and it shows on The Dream I Dreamed.


If you are into vocal music infused with hip Jazz inflections sung by someone who knows his way around a lyric, then Michael Dees The Dream I Dreamed  [JazzMedia Records JM 1071] is a can’t miss choice.


© -Graham Carter/JazzedMedia Records, copyright protected; all rights reserved.


“A few years ago I first became aware of Michael Dees while attending The Los Angeles Jazz Institute's concert series saluting Frank Sinatra. Michael performed a marvelous concert of Frank Sinatra/Count Basie songs accompanied by the Frank Capp Juggernaut Big Band. What I remember most was that Michael did not do the usual Sinatra type singing impression but instead sang each song with his own very
special sound and approach, and in the process bringing new life to the songs from the famous Sinatra/Basie collaboration we all know and love. He really nailed the songs and had everyone in the audience swinging and swaying in their seats.


Michael's background is rather surprising in that he was born in Houston, Texas but you would never know that from talking with him. His accent sounds much more East Coast than Texan. Michael kicked around the U.S. professionally during the very late '50s and early '60s, finally settling in Los Angeles in 1961 (Michael currently lives in Palm Springs, CA). The '60s brought much travel throughout the U.S. as Michael played the Playboy Clubs while he concentrated on honing his jazz chops. ….


Starting in the early '70s Michael Dees embarked on a long term career move by performing in over 100 television and movie soundtracks. Recent examples include Sabrina and the singing voice of Frank Sinatra in HBO's The Rat Pack. During this period Michael has sung, written or produced hundreds of commercial "jingles" for radio and television.


Missing in all this activity are any jazz vocal recordings by Michael since the '60s, until the recently formed Mack Avenue label asked him to do an album in 2001 (One Single Rose). Unfortunately that was Michael's only recorded jazz output of the past few years, until now.


My goal in starting the Jazzed Media label in 2002 was to give deserving jazz artists a home to perform and record music for release. This new release from Michael is a further step in that process by hopefully giving one of the great male jazz singers the recognition he so richly deserves (and has earned).


What makes this new album of Michael's so exciting is that he also wrote the words and music. It is unusual today to find this combination in male jazz vocalists. There is a sincerity in what Michael writes and sings. He strips away most of the flower and ornamentation we are used to hearing from male jazz vocalists singing the Great American Songbook and instead gives us an intimate reading of love's challenges and joys. This is a man speaking and singing from the heart and a road well-traveled….”


© -Holly Cooper/Mouthpiece Music, copyright protected; all rights reserved.


Michael Dees is a rarity in jazz. He's a singer who writes music that is lyrical and lyrics that are poignant and emotive. The Dream I Dreamed, Dees' newest recording as a leader since his 2002 release One Single Rose, features 14 fourteen of his own original compositions, accompanied by some of the finest musicians on the West Coast.


Dees may be the most famous singer you never heard of. His long list of accomplishments stretches back to the 1960s when he was featured several times on The Steve Allen Show and recorded a complete album of his music. He was voted "Best New Male Singer" at the 1968 International Popular Song Festival in Rio de Janeiro where he met Elmer Bernstein, which led Bernstein to ask Dees to record the song "A Walk in the Spring Rain" for the soundtrack of the movie of the same title. He recorded two albums for Capitol Records, including Talk to Me Baby, which featured several Alan & Marilyn Bergman songs. The famed songwriting team liked his work so much, they asked him to sing their well-known tune "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life" for the soundtrack of the movie The Happy Ending. In the 1970s he began a long career as a studio singer, performing on over 100 television and movie soundtracks, including as the singing voice of Frank Sinatra in HBO's The Rat Pack and recording songs on the soundtrack to Sabrina, the 1995 movie starring Harrison Ford. He has also sung, written or produced hundreds of commercial "jingles" for radio and television.


Dees' voice is warm and full of colors. He knows how to cut to the heart of a lyric and sings with great nuance but without extraneous ornamentation. Although he penned these compositions within the last 10 years, they are incredibly reminiscent of the Great American Songbook. Had he written them earlier, they surely would be considered part of that timeless pantheon.


When asked where he gets his inspiration when he writes, he replies, "From every song I've ever heard." Judging by these songs, he's certainly heard a lot of them. The tunes on this disc are stylistically diverse. There are swingers like the opening "In A Moment" to gentle ballads like "I Miss You" and "Look At Me" to jazz waltzes like "A Long Time Comin'." He even captures a Dixieland feel with "Back In New Orleans." His melodies stay with you long after you've heard them, and his lyrics tell stories that are full of passion and longing. His songs are notably articulate and cogent, which Dees achieves by reading the lyrics out loud when he's writing, as if he were performing a monologue in a play.


The musicians on the project are leaders in their own right. The fantastic rhythm section comprises four legendary musicians, including Terry Trotter on piano, Chuck Berghofer on bass, Steve Schaeffer on drums, and Don Williams on percussion. The horn section is no less august with the Doug Webb and Chuck Manning on tenor sax, Bob Sheppard on tenor sax and clarinet, Sal Marquez on trumpet, and Steve Huffsteter on trumpet and flugelhorn.


The Dream I Dreamed is the work of an experienced, confident performer who evokes the best of the male jazz vocalist tradition. With his warm, intimate voice, memorable melodies, and affective lyrics, Michael Dees deserves the wide public attention due a superb artist.


The Dream I Dreamed is available through www.JazzedMedia.com,  Amazon and iTunes.

The following video features Michael singing Look At Me track from the new CD.