"When hearing these musicians, I have no doubt jazz music is in great hands." - Ben Wolfe
This is just one of the many accolades that the Dease-Madsen Quintet has received since its formation in 2004. Wynton Marsalis has stated, "I'd rather listen to Madsen than most other players out there right now." Curtis Fuller predicts "Mike Dease will become one of the world's great trombone masters."
When you listen to this album, it is easy to hear why their playing has excited some of the strongest pillars of the jazz community. Trombonist Dease and tenor saxophonist Madsen are each capable of great musicality that matches their virtuoso technique. But what is so striking about the pair is the individual identity that they both possess on their instruments. The melodic concept in their solos, and the beautiful, complex composing and arranging make it very hard to believe that they are just 22 and 23 years old. To understand this maturity, just survey some of the artists that they have performed with: Mike spent three years in the Illinois Jacquet big band, and has gigged with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Slide Hampton and his Trombone All-Stars and Alica Keys; Chris has performed with no less than Eric Reed, Bob Brookmeyer and Tom Harrell, and has been commissioned to compose for Phil Woods, Loren Schoenberg and Bobby Broom.
The idea for the group came about when both Dease and Madsen were performing with the Wynton Marsalis Quartet or the grand opening of New York City's Jazz at Lincoln Center facility. Mike suggested the idea of a collaborative quintet, and a few months later they were ready to record a CD. To make their musical vision come true, they needed a rhythm section capable of playing their challenging tunes with power and grace, who could also lay down the album's seven tracks in just under three hours. They found exactly the right musicians in Drew Pierson(piano), Yasushi Nakamura(bass), and Marion Felder(drums). Trumpeter Brandon Lee lends a bluesy vibe to the aggressive opening thrack, The Takeover.
Together, this band displays a sensitivity that makes the album come alive. They interpret the original music with clarity, and display great authority when paying homage to the jazz tradition on Ray Noble's Cherokee. This album is a showcase for the talents of each player individually, and a striking demonstration of what gifted young musicians can come together to do when they share the same musical ideals.
REVIEW - Online Trombone Journal
Trombonist Michael Dease’s and saxophonist Chris Madsen’s collaborative effort, The Takeover, shows off both musicians equally well as performers and composer/arrangers. After listening to this debut CD it’s quite clear why Dease and Madsen are in demand as sidemen for notables like Wynton Marsalis, Jimmy Heath, Wycliffe Gordon and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.
The composing and arranging on The Takeover deserves mention for its quality. The uncommon front line of tenor saxophone and trombone provide a deep and warm sound that each track exploits in often surprising ways. Ranging in styles from the Jazz Messengers-like blues The Takeover to the Lennie Tristano influenced I’ll Fake Romance, both Dease and Madsen cleverly utilize the two horn front line to its fullest. Not content to merely play lines in unison or homophonically harmonized, the arrangements often feature a counterpoint that is all the more effective for its rarity in ensembles of this type.
While there is a fair amount of prearrangement on this album there is also extensive space left for the players to improvise and much like the writing, the improvisations on The Takeover are of the highest caliber. This is especially remarkable considering the youth of the players involved – trombonist Michael Dease was a mere 23 years old at the time of this recording! Dease’s style, while borrowing from expected influences ranging from J.J. Johnson and Curtis Fuller is already showing a remarkable originality. While many with Dease’s chops would easily fall into the trap of merely playing flashy lines, he improvises in such a way that the technique always serves the music instead of the other way around.
The sidemen on The Takeover all deserve mention for their work here. Brandon Lee, who perform on trumpet on the title track, brings Woody Shaw to mind with his soloing. The rhythm section, consisting of Drew Pierson on piano, Yasushi Nakamura on bass and Marion Felder on drums, swings hard throughout and each player also shines in the role of soloist as well as sensitive accompanist.
The packaging of this independently produced album is good, although the lack of liner notes will be disappointing to fans who want to learn more about the music and musicians involved. Instead, they are directed to the professional web sites of Michael Dease (www.mikedease.com) and Chris Madsen (www.chrismadsen.net), where you can not only learn more about them but also listen to sound files of their playing and order this CD. Both Dease and Madsen, as well as all the musicians involved on The Takeover, should be commended for their remarkable work.
David Wilken received a Bachelor of Music from Illinois Wesleyan University, a Master of Music from DePaul University, and a Doctor of Arts from Ball State University. He has taught brass and jazz at Indiana Wesleyan University and Adams State College. Currently he is the Coordinator of Jazz Studies at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and serves as Reviews Editor for the Online Trombone Journal Forum. His professional web site, which includes many brass, jazz, and general music resources, can be accessed at http://www.unca.edu/~dwilken/.