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Consensus (2019)

Dale Fielder Quartet

Saxophonist Dale Fielder and his soon to be 25-year-old quartet releases his 20th CD, “Consensus”. The band affectionately known as the DFQ has long been recognized as among the most consistently exciting jazz groups on the Los Angeles jazz scene, and the international jazz market through their recordings on Clarion Jazz. Along with exciting vocalist Rita Edmond, “Consensus” combines tradition with the future of jazz. It is also organic, hard-hitting original jazz music that is a result of having the freedom to play without restriction! Atlanta Creative Loafer writer, James Rozzi wrote about Dale Fielder’s concept, “close listening prompts an understanding of just how complete a package this L.A. sax man tends to be. Whether exploring an oblique 5/4 original or a standard, Fielder plays with a high degree of emotional outpouring yet his lines always manage fruition. It’s impossible not to appreciate what he’s doing: shoot from the hip. Some of the finest saxophonists in jazz history ---namely Jackie McLean and Eric Dolphy have held this same command. The jazz world could use a few more free-blowing free agents like Fielder.”

With this new CD, Fielder and band seem well poised to take things to the next level. Writer Roman St. James writing in the Jazz Review, wrote about Fielder’s “Baritone Sunride,” “The benefit of their long time alliance is obvious. The telepathic-like interaction they maintain is one of the factors that allows this group to rise a notch above in a field that abounds in great jazz groups. If you are a fan of the baritone sax, you will absolutely love this album. Fielder’s chops are unequaled. I honestly don’t believe there’s a better proponent of the instrument alive and playing today. If you’ve never been a bari fan, the explosive creativity and enormous passion displayed on this recording may very well change your mind.”

The group features 2 main soloists in baritone saxophonist and leader Dale Fielder and pianist Jane Getz. Getz is regarded as one of jazz’s living legends. She left a dream career in NYC working with all of the most prominent jazz artists of her time: Charles Mingus, Stan Getz, Grant Green, Charles Lloyd, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Elvin Jones, Herbie Mann, and even turned the head and piqued the interest of the legendary Miles Davis;; She left New York to move to Los Angeles as a top producer producing sessions with Ringo Starr, John Lemmon, The Bee Gees among many others. She continues as a producer and owns one of Hollywood’s busiest recording studios. Dale Fielder is one of the anomalies in jazz. Inspired by Thelonious Monk, Fielder has always maintained his preference for leading his own bands and playing his own music. As a result, he has become acknowledged as both an important baritone saxophonist and composer. Known earlier in his career as an alto and tenor saxophonist, in 2003 Fielder changed up and began playing baritone sax exclusively with the DFQ. Fielder feels his most natural voice and individuality comes through on the baritone sax than the other saxes which he still plays when called as a sideman.

The DFQ is rounded out by bassist Bill Markus and drummer Thomas White. Markus and White have quickly become LA jazz legends in their own right as first-call musicians working with a whos-who of major jazz talent in LA. As an added bonus performing with the DFQ since 2014 is vocalist Rita Edmond, a leader and top artist as well. Writer Christopher Loudon in JazzTimes Magazine commented about an Edmond CD, “It’s not often that a vocal album suggests the near-certitude of future greatness, but Rita Edmond is of that rare ilk. Backed by a four-octave range, Rita recalls two of the all-time greats: reflecting the vocal power and majesty of Sarah Vaughan, the impeccable timing and phrasing of Carmen McRae, and the intense, natural musicality of both.”

Official CD Website: www.dfqconsensus.com


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Scene From A Dream (1983)

Dale Fielder / Geri Allen

The long-overdue release of Scene From A Dream is a historic event. It was not only the recording debut as a leader of saxophonist Dale Fielder but it contains valuable contributions by the late great pianist Geri Allen from 1983.

At the time, Dale Fielder was 25, living in New York with Geri Allen, and in the early stages of his career. Born and raised in Midland, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, he began playing music from an early age, studying clarinet, tenor, alto and baritone saxophone, oboe, bassoon, and tuba. “My brother, who was 19 years older than me, indoctrinated me into jazz around 1962,” remembers Fielder. He gained important experience writing and playing with the Fielder Brothers and in high school performing with the r&b group The Ohio Supremes. After attending the University of Pittsburgh, he moved to New York in 1980, took Steve Coleman’s place with the Mighty Sparrows (a popular dance band), and met Geri Allen.

“It was an exciting period for me. Being with Geri, I had the opportunity to see the high level of dedication that she had on a daily basis and was inspired to find my own voice as a composer. At the time I was quite shy but Geri really believed in me. When I got some money to produce a record, Geri pushed me out there and urged me to make this session. It wouldn’t exist if it were not for her.”

Dale Fielder had only recorded once before, two years earlier as a sideman on trombonist Artie Simmons’ album Ababio, and it would not be until 1993, a decade later, that he would lead his second album. While he is well featured on alto during the six songs that comprise the Scene from a Dream project, he saw the project as an opportunity to present himself as a jazz composer. “I’m really out of the bebop tradition and Charlie Parker is in everything that I do musically. But I don’t live in the 1940s and ‘50s and I wanted to write music that was relevant to the period. I used a pulse rhythm as opposed to the swing walking basslines. But at the same time, I wanted to be able to solo with the same feeling over the chord changes that I could on the standards.”

At the time (Feb. 23, 1983), Geri Allen was also near the beginning of her career. She had made her recording debut three months earlier (other than some sets with her college bands) on altoist Oliver Lake’s Plug. However, she was already a long way towards developing her own approach to the piano. Fielder had met Michael Logan when they performed with Artie Simmons’ band. “We became friends, did gigs together, and I always called him to play bass. Drummer Greg Bufford, who was Philly Joe Jones’ protégé, was my best friend in New York. Like me, he always hustled and was ready to play any type of gig.” Percussionist Rob White is technically Dale’s nephew although he thinks of him as his brother. “His Mom is my sister and, since she is 22 years older, Rob is only six months younger than me. He is very successful as a conga and bongo player in Baltimore. On this project, he always fit the mood of the moment and helped to make the music unique.”

Scene From A Dream begins with Fielder’s “Night In Turquoise/Dance Over The Edge, a melodic but rhythmically tricky piece that is partly in 11/4 time with a 7/4 interlude with its main section in 4/4. Written to memorialize a fun night that he had spent in a dance club with Geri Allen, this is a mini-suite with many moving parts that will keep one guessing.

“Fugue 1978” doesn’t refer to classical music but to the state of consciousness between being awake and asleep. The atmosphere is set by Logan’s bowed bass before it becomes an energetic romp in 5/4 time that inspires inventive solos by Fielder and Allen.

Michael Logan brought in “Scene From A Dream” to the session, an original that Bobby Hutcherson was playing at the time. The composer’s unaccompanied bass improvisation (a little reminiscent of Jimmy Garrison) introduces the passionate jazz waltz, launching heated solos including some fiery “sheets of sound” from the leader.

“Les Mots Flottants (The Floating Words)” is named after the title of French writer Anais Nin’s diary which Dale was reading at the time. “Each morning she would clear her mind by taking a walk along the Seine River. I tried to capture the mood of her walks in this piece.” The excitement of starting a new day with endless possibilities can be heard in Fielder’s exuberant solo.

During the era, Dale Fielder and Geri Allen enjoyed playing duets. “The Rain,” a melancholy ballad, is a bit unusual because Allen spontaneously decided to sing wordlessly in the ensembles, one of the very few times in her career that she took a vocal. The date ends with Gregory Bufford’s “In My Youth,” an energetic and exciting samba which features a prominent role for White on congas.

Despite the high quality of the music, these six selections went unreleased until now. The reason is simple; the project ran out of money. “During the past 35 years, it was always in the back of my mind but I was more focused on my current projects.”

Since Scene From A Dream is the length of an LP, Dale Fielder decided to add two complimentary songs to the CD. After permanently moving to Los Angeles in 1988, he worked with drummer Chuck McPherson’s Modern Jazz Disciples every Friday and Saturday night at the Embassy Suites in San Diego during 1989-91. “Leopard In The Night” is the best song of the six that the quartet (which also includes pianist Dave Robbins and bassist David Marr) recorded as a demo on Apr. 27, 1991. A relatively straight-ahead piece, it features Fielder playing effortlessly over the complex chord changes. “Thunderbirds,” which was part of the 2001 album The Hipster, gives listeners an opportunity to hear the mature Fielder performing in a quintet with pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Trevor Ware, drummer Thomas White, and percussionist Rob White.

In more recent times, Dale Fielder has turned his focus to the baritone sax which he originally played in high school. “In 2002 I started playing the baritone again and, the more I got into the horn, the more I discovered that I could develop my own voice on the instrument.” Fielder is frequently heard in the Los Angeles area leading his quartet with pianist Jane Getz, bassist Bill Markus and drummer Thomas Wright, a group that has now been together for 21 years.

Looking back to Scene From A Dream, Dale Fielder says, “Geri passing away this past June shook us up and we thought that it was very important to finally get the recording out to add to her legacy. It is a tribute to Geri and the music that we played together long ago.”

-Scott Yanow, Jazz journalist/historian, and author of 11 books including
The Jazz Singers, Bebop, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76
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Resilience! (2016)

Dale Fielder Quartet

“RESILIENCE!” is the DFQ~Dale Fielder Quartet’s 20th Anniversary recording. Night after night for over twenty years, the DFQ have gone quietly about their business; almost workman-like, -just making the gig, yet as serious as your life in focusing only on the music. Seeing this focus and reverence for the music, while having a great time doing it is what their audiences like most about the band. Looking back on the tenth anniversary for the DFQ in 2005, Fielder in an interview for his "Baritone Sunride" CD commented on the band's bond: "The passion and dedication each member of this band has is beyond any words I can say except the word “love”. We really love what we are doing together. It doesn’t happen quite in the same way when we play with anyone else. We naturally create a very ego-less and supportive musical environment for each other every time we play. And because of this, there is a tremendous amount of love, respect, and esteem we hold for each other that has been enjoyed for ten years and hopefully, many more to come". Ten years later on their twentieth anniversary, the band continues to not merely survive, but actually thrive. It is certainly remarkable in how the band continues to grow, evolve their singular way and have created a body of distinctive jazz music. This current offering testifies to the abilities of Fielder's leadership, his courage as a bandleader as well as his commitment and determination in his continued pursuit of the baritone sax as a front-line solo instrument; -not a usual role for the deep-toned horn, usually seen anchoring the sax section in a big band. Also, the CD continues to exhibit Fielder's evolution as a composer. The beauty and strength of the band can be seen in how they play and interpret Fielder's compositions. As a result, the band has their own sound and can immediately set a mood and create a vibe. Also, each individual member is showcased; everyone gets to shine! This is a band in the fullest sense of the word and not a collection of dis-interested individuals just phoning it in. This very special 20th Anniversary CD is aptly entitled RESILIENCE! A testament to the DFQ continuing their course for over twenty years and marking their anniversary with a great recording in the way they do best; -playing live; no tricks, no gimmicks nor a safety net! Music created on the spot, in the moment; -what the art of creating the genuine jazz experience should be all about. Here, we are treated to two CDs chocked-full of consistently urgent, earnest, and honest music.

The band boasts two major soloists in Dale Fielder and pianist Jane Getz. Getz possessing one of the most unique stories in jazz as recorded in her autobiography "Runnin' With The Big Dogs" of leaving high school and traveling to NYC to work and record with jazz immortal, Charles Mingus. Hand-picked by Chick Corea as his 'first call' sub, Getz was one of the most sought-after pianists on the NYC scene during the late 1960s and early 1970s, working on Pharaoh Sanders first recording and performing with Stan Getz, Herbie Mann, Charles Lloyd, Elvin Jones and countless others. Eventually, Getz secured a deal with RCA as a producer and left NYC for Hollywood, bought a house in the Hollywood hills and produced sessions for artists such as Ringo Star, John Lennon, and the Bee Gees as the legendary pop producer "Mother Hen". She continues to work to this day as a sought-after music producer and owns and operates one of Hollywood's most successful mixing studios, Crescent Heights Digital. Finally by the early 90s, Getz had the urge to 'play some real music again", and began going out to play on the LA scene where she crossed paths with Fielder.

Dale Fielder came out of Pittsburgh by way of NYC and became known to the jazz public in the 1990s largely through his own recordings. His 1996 CD, “Dear Sir: Tribute To Wayne Shorter” was a top-ten CD for over three months and was instrumental in bringing him to the attention of the national jazz public. The CD enjoyed the approval and support of Mr. Shorter and was also Jane Getz’s first recording with the band. Known earlier in his career as an alto and tenor saxophonist, Fielder began performing on the baritone sax in 2003. As a devotee of the baritone sax style of the great Pepper Adams, Fielder began performing exclusively on the baritone sax on his own gigs since 2014. He has said that the baritone is a “natural fit for my style of play". When asked to describe his style on the sax, Fielder says, "The basis of my saxophone style is out of "Bird", Charlie Parker. That's the foundation of my style. I came to "Bird" through Jackie McLean, who was my first major influence on alto. I began on alto and primarily played that until the 90's when I added tenor. When you think about it, Jackie McLean's style, especially his sound is a perfect style for the baritone sax. I found that where I had to play a lot of notes to be effective on the other horns, I could be equally as effective with less notes on the baritone. On baritone each note has more "weight" if you will, caused by the lower register of the horn, more metal etc. Imagine that tart-sweet tone of McLean that was kind of a tenor sound on alto; imagine THAT on baritone! I see myself as a more emotional player than an intellectual one. I rely more on intuition and instinct than technique. Going for the emotional essence of the music makes me more into sound and tonal centers; more primal and primitive levels I think. My first major influences on the sax were three: Jackie McLean as mentioned, then Sonny Rollins and then Pepper Adams. I was into these guys early before I got into Trane and of course, lost my mind! (laughs) As my records show, when I picked back up with the baritone in 2003, the Pepper influence was pervasive. Up until about 2011, I loved his playing so much I finally began to worry about becoming a clone. Luckily, I pulled a tendon in my arm and was physically unable to play baritone for over a year from 2013 through 2014 and went back to the other saxes. So when I went back to the baritone in 2014, I’ve since been working to expand beyond the Pepper Adams influence, incorporating others like Trane, Dexter, Wayne, and Joe Henderson. I feel that with RESILIENCE!, I have finally pushed past the Pepper influence on baritone and starting to become my own man on the horn.” What’s really unique is that Fielder has also brought the baritone sax front line in a contemporary setting that is unusual these days. Here Fielder places the baritone in settings that are not normal. Right out of the box with the tune “Days and Nights With You", is a baritone sax/vocal duet! Who else does that?

The other members of the DFQ are equally unique players in their own right. Bill Markus, one of the busiest bassists in Los Angeles “possesses two unique solo styles”, says Fielder. “A unique double-stop pizzicato style and a jazz arco style unlike any other bassist in jazz. Plus he is unbeatable on fast tempos. As the night gets longer, Bill gets stronger!” Percussionist Thomas White is a product of the New England Conservatory where he studied under the legendary George Russell. His unique style of combining power and intensity without a lot of volume makes him a favorite for piano trios. Fielder likes “that he is a drummer who plays and extemporizes instead of merely keeping time. Yet his sense of time is impeccable. This is why we call him ‘Mr. Taste’!”

The music on this CD was recorded in front of a live audience at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro, CA by Grammy award-winning engineer Bob Tucker. Tucker is also the head engineer and partner with Jane Getz at Crescent Heights Digital. His work here speaks for itself, captured and recorded so well that you are only aware it is a live recording at each tune's end when you hear the audience applaud! Fielder says that Alvas is “one of the most acoustically perfect rooms in the country today!” He recorded his 2007 CD "Plays the Music of Pepper Adams" there at Alvas. For the exception of George Cables’ “Think On Me”, all the music recorded that night are Dale Fielder originals. Fielder says, “These are the tunes we’ve been playing on gigs through-out 2014-2015” except for “Days and Nights With You” and “Aquarian Aspirations”, which are the newest and were written just before the session. “Days and Nights With You” features the exceptionally talented vocalist Rita Edmond, who has been performing with the band since 2014 whenever a vocalist is required. The tune definitely illustrates her simpatico with the band. We are treated to two completely different versions of the tune, Take-1 opening the CD and Take-2 closing it. A truly exotic tune with lush chord changes, written as a tone poem for Fielder's wife, it demonstrates his ideas about composition. “I’m of the Lester Young school of thought in jazz; the attraction to beauty in music. There’s the desire to convey the sense of the exotic or ecstatic and trance states in music. It’s a direct path to the soul and the eternity of life itself.” He spoke on this early in his career in 1995 for Musician magazine where he said back then, “It is a mistaken assumption that musicians merely reflect the times they live in. We have the responsibility to assist in molding the characteristics of the future. So my music cannot help but to align with the positive qualities of our world. It addresses the magnificence of the human experience. I am learning how to adjust the composition of melody, rhythm, harmony, and lyrics to affect people’s consciousness in a positive and beneficial way, whether they are aware of it or not. It's about really learning how to be a healer." Isn't that what jazz is all about? Using the music to feel good about life in spite of its challenges.

“Aquarian Aspirations”, an intriguing composition that is primarily in 3/4 time with 1 bar of 5/4, was written for his elder brother and mentor, the late tenor saxophonist Guy Fielder, who transitioned in November of 2015. “He is the reason why I’m playing this music" says Fielder. "Every note I play from now on is for him, for I am his legacy.” This is Fielder's most engaging solo on the CD and is at the heart of what Fielder is accomplishing with the baritone sax. This solo yields dividends upon repeated listening. Next, we are treated to an extended 11 plus minute version of “The Quickening” [A Divine Moment]” which first appeared on Fielder’s “Stellar Moments” CD back in 2009 where Fielder played it on alto sax. This is much how the band stretches out and sounds when performing live. In turn, “Romance Serenade” first appeared on Fielder’s CD of the same name back in 2000, another top-ten CD at the time. That version was an instrumental version where Fielder played it on soprano sax. However lyrics were written for it and here, we get to hear it for the first time in a fine vocal outing by Rita Edmond. The title tune “Resilience!” features Jane Getz and the cross-stick quarter note rhythm that is prominent in Fielder’s writing these days. He says, “I like it because while making the music sound more contemporary to today’s audience, it also establishes a timekeeping dynamic that one can solo over in a traditional way like Bird very easily”. “Easy Does It” and “Patience’s Patience” displays the more straight-ahead post-bop style the band is known for. Of particular note is Thomas White’s brushwork throughout on “Patience’s Patience", as well as solos on "Think Of Me" and "The Quickening" with full band accompaniment.

Disc II starts out with Fielder’s ‘mini-suite’ “Perceptions”. Fielder has written and performed several extended works over the years. Many were commissioned. Two have been recorded on CD: “Ocean of Love and Mercy” (1997) and “Suite: Clarity” (2004). His last, "Light And Shadow" (2007) was a commission from Lenoir-Rhyne College in North Carolina. "When I was about 9 years old, I fell in love with the music of Duke Ellington, mesmerized by his "Reminiscing In Tempo", says Fielder. "It made a profound impression on me as well as inspiring the desire to compose longer forms. “Perceptions” has turned out to be a work in progress; there's already a part four written for it. I'm really happy for the opportunity to get it in".

“Perceptions I: [Shifting Focus] is an up-tempo straight-ahead swinger with solos by all four members. Fielder and Getz's authoritative bebop roots, as well as a strong-point of the entire band; are in full display here. Immediately beginning afterward is "Bass Prelude I" by Bill Markus, who is featured in the first of two bass preludes. “Bass Prelude I” is performed acro (with the bow) in an almost classical style. The bass-line leads of “Perceptions II: [Elation]” starts the second movement. [Elation] is a case in point of Fielder’s intent to convey the sense of the exotic and trance states in music. Also of note is how both Fielder and Getz are so un-hurried during their solos, taking their time to caress each note. Next up is “Bass Prelude II” and this time is performed pizzicato (plucked) by Markus and makes the transition into “Perceptions III: [Radiance]”. [Radiance] is a wonderful Latin Hybrid composition; first Getz and then Fielder lay down expressive solos. After listening, Fielder comment on seeing the Wayne Shorter influence in his writing. And indeed the tune seems like something Wayne Shorter would have written back in an earlier period. At the end of the night, the band decided to have another go at "Days and Nights With You" and we are treated to an alternate take of the tune, as indeed, there were no thow-aways that evening.

“RESILIENCE!” is a splendid 20th Anniversary recording that stands up well to repeated listening. One can only hope this recording will go a long way in helping the band be heard more broadly. Congratulations to DFQ~Dale Fielder Quartet for staying the course for over 20 years; and in that one fact, they have accomplished what few jazz bands in the new millennium have been able to enjoy. They truly do possess, - RESILIENCE!

-Reid Schultz
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