A few musical pointers
Trombonist Michael Dease stopped the members of the UNC Jazz Band to work out a phrase during a rehearsal of Dizzy Gillespie’s tune “Two Bass Hit.”
“Right where it breaks into harmony, everything should just bust out,” he told the horn section.
“All right trumpets, with love,” said Jim Ketch, director of UNC’s jazz studies program, who was conducting the rehearsal in Kenan Music Building. When the ensemble got to the section Dease was discussing, he gestured, and then gave a thumbs-up to the musicians, who apparently understood his “bust out” advice.
“Yeah, man. Good chart,” said trumpeter Claudio Roditi, who was sitting on the sidelines to rehearse some tunes with the band. He complimented Dease on his arrangement of “Two Bass Hit.”
Dease and Roditi are the artists-in-residence for this year’s Carolina Jazz Festival, which continues Friday and Saturday.
Wednesday’s rehearsal was their first with the student ensemble. During the one-hour whirlwind session, they went through a number of tunes, working out order of solos and other logistics for the weekend performances. After the rehearsal, Ketch quickly led Dease and Roditi through the set list for a Wednesday concert with the music faculty of UNC and North Carolina Central University.
Dease and Roditi are from two different generations – Roditi was born in 1946; Dease in 1982. Both have worked extensively as sidemen, leaders and teachers. Roditi was born in Brazil, and while he absorbed the music of his homeland, he also listened to Charlie Parker and other American musicians. He went to Boston in 1970 to study jazz at Berklee College of Music, and later went to New York. His many recordings include “Gemini Man,” “Samba Manhattan Style” and “Two of Swords.”
Dease was born in Georgia, and his recordings include “The Takeover,” “Dease Bones” and “Grace.” He teaches at Northeastern University in Boston.
Roditi, who is 66; Dease, who is 30, and the students in the UNC band are examples of the intergenerational ties of the American music called jazz. Roditi and Dease passed on a few lessons they have learned along the way Wednesday.
Roditi led the band in an arrangement of Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “A Felicidade.” After a few measures, Roditi stopped and asked Alex Williams, who plays drums, to use a different kind of stick for a different feel. Roditi and tenor saxophonist Cameron Cook then played the melody together. During a rehearsal of Roditi’s composition “Slammin’,” he also explained the subtleties of some phrasing to Williams. (“You’re going to work in Brazil someday,” Ketch joked.)
Up until this point, Roditi played a standard trumpet, but on his composition “Piccolo Blues,” he played a smaller, higher-pitched piccolo trumpet. On this composition, Dease played piano, and Roditi’s tone on the piccolo trumpet had a delicate feel with a good sense of swing. At one point, he asked the band to give the piece more of a Count Basie feel. The musical subtlety of his request and its humor were not lost on these students.
The headliner for this year’s Carolina Jazz Festival, Cuban percussionist Dafnis Prieto and his sextet, will perform today in Memorial Hall at UNC. Dease and Roditi will perform some of their compositions and arrangements today and Saturday with several UNC student ensembles. See schedule for more details.