“Dale Fielder at Fordham University  

When Dale Fielder takes the stage at Fordham University’s McGinley Ballroom in the Bronx this month, it will be Fielder’s first appearance in New York this century. Fielder left New York, where he had lived for eight years, in 1988, settling in the Los Angeles area. But the impetus for producer Kunle Mwanga, who is presenting him at Fordham as part of a Bronx African-American History Project, goes back even further, to recordings Fielder made in 1983 with a quintet that featured the late pianist Geri Allen (her first recording). Allen’s death last year spurred Fielder to dig out the tapes from those sessions and put them out as Scene From A Dream (NYC 1983) (Clarion Jazz). Mwanga, who had been Allen’s manager, heard the album and invited him to come and give a concert in his series. “The original idea,” Fielder said on the phone from his Altadena, CA home, “was to do the music from the album, but that was me 35 years ago. I’m 62 now and I’ve changed a lot and gotten a lot better since then.” Among those changes is that Fielder no longer plays the alto saxophone (his instrument on the 1983 album) “unless I’m on someone else’s gig and they ask me and are paying me. “Baritone sax is my main axe now,” he says and adds with a laugh “and I’ve got a lot of upset fans about it. On my gigs and band, I play what I want and that’s baritone, although I play tenor on one track on the next album we’re releasing.” Fielder first met Allen in 1978, when they both lived in or around Pittsburgh. He had become disillusioned with the jazz scene and given up on pursuing a musical career and was “making crazy dough as a 23-year-old” working in the steel mills. “I hadn’t picked up a horn in over four months when Jothan Callins, a great composer and trumpet player, begged me to come up to Pittsburgh and hear this incredible young sister he had on piano. He introduced us and said, ‘I want two great musicians to meet each other, for I know you two should be playing with one another!’ Geri’s playing just blew me away, I felt excited about jazz, inspired by the way she played.” Allen asked Fielder if he could join her band at a steady gig she had at a new club. “I leaped at the chance to play with this genius,” he says, “and knew I had some serious shedding to do. But I did make the gig. I also rehearsed with her almost daily and learned all her tunes and have never looked back since. I had quit jazz, but Geri inspired me to go back. But she always said, “I didn’t do nothing except give you a gig!’” Fielder moved to New York City in 1980 and when Allen came east in 1982, she found a large apartment in Brooklyn with two bedrooms and a big studio to put her piano. She invited Fielder to share the place as her roommate and he stayed until the end of 1987. “When I first decided to pursue the music in 1977,” he says, “I thought the first thing you gotta do is get a day job, because I was very specific about what I wanted to do with music, on my own terms.” He did not want to have to play music just to make money, “because everybody I saw who did that was jammed up in some way. I wanted to stay excited about the music I was making and I still am today.” So Fielder pursued a parallel career on Wall Street. He remembers meeting Allen and other young musicians, including Wynton and Branford Marsalis and Greg Osby, after work in Greenwich Village and going out jamming at night. “I was in my business suit and they would tease me, one of them saying ‘I never worked a day gig in my life’, then a few minutes later asking if I could lend him a $20.” But Fielder says his jazz career never really took off until after he landed in Los Angeles in 1988. A trip to San Diego to see alto saxophonist Charles McPherson on a weekend led to a two-year gig there on weekends with McPherson’s drummer son Chuck. Then Fielder began getting known on the L.A. jazz scene and eventually formed his Dale Fielder Quartet, a band that celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015. The quartet’s secret weapon is pianist Jane Getz, who worked with Stan Getz (no relation) and Charles Mingus in the ‘60s, then had a successful career as a pop producer for RCA, as well recording under the pseudonym Mother Hen, for decades on the West Coast. “I went to a jam session at World Stage in L.A. and ran into this cute little lady with a fur stole who plays like Bud Powell. She wanted to get back to jazz and she joined the quartet in 1995 and is still with us.” “I hadn’t picked up a baritone in 20 years,” says Fielder, “when I was endorsing Jupiter saxes and played a run on one and the rep said I sounded like Pepper Adams. I was into Pepper before I heard Coltrane. I stopped playing bari because I thought I was cloning him too much.” Resilience! (1995-2015) by the Dale Fiedler Quartet (Clarion Jazz), the band’s 18th album, came out in 2016. It features Fielder exclusively on baritone. Gary Carner, Pepper Adams biographer and discographer, calls Fielder “among a group of accomplished American baritone saxophone soloists whose chief influence is Pepper Adams. A hard swinger with a big sound… you can hear his love of the music and his zest for life in his solos.”  For more information, visit dalefielder.com. Fielder is at Fordham University McGinley Ballroom Oct. 20th. See Calendar. Recommended Listening: • Dale Fielder/Geri Allen—Scene From A Dream (NYC 1983) (Clarion Jazz, 1983) • Dale Fielder—Dear Sir: Tribute to Wayne Shorter (Clarion Jazz, 1995) • Dale Fielder Angel City Quartet—Stellar Moments (Clarion Jazz, 2008) • Dale Fielder Tribute Quintet—Each Time I Think of You: A Tribute to the Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams Quintet (Clarion Jazz, 2011) • Dale Fielder—Dream Dancing (Clarion Jazz, 2014) • Dale Fielder—Resilience! (1995-2015) (Clarion Jazz, 2016)”

- George Kanzler / New York City Jazz Record

Live Jazz: Dale Fielder at Vibrato Jazz Grill

Every once in a while you get to hear some straight, no rocks saxophone playing, and such was on tap, or perhaps uncorked would be a better term, when Dale Fielder played Vibrato on Friday. Dale Fielder and Pat Senatore. He did the whole set on baritone saxophone. So it was fresh sounds all the way, not quite velvety, that would be too thick.  Or silken, which would be too thin. Tweedy makes it too hairy. Ramon Banda, song-like, it was. Down around Al Hibbler territory, without the boom. Agility-wise, it reminded you of Harry Carney rather than Gerry Mulligan. The repertoire was almost all nicely proportioned originals, fast-moving without being tiresome or hard to follow. A stalwart of the L.A. jazz world, Fielder took you affectionately through the changes, filling them all out with pretty much stone bebop. But never over your head. You got a beginning, a middle, and an end. Theo Saunders with Pat Senatore on bass and Ramon Banda at the drums, the soloing kept right on swinging. That attribute would be richly deserved, too, by the pianist Theo Saunders, who’s recorded with Bill Evans, and anybody else who needed a fellow star. His every chorus filled the plate with goodies. He picked up where Fielder left off to breathe and rest in a dark corner. There the gentleman would play along softly as though he couldn’t resist. The guy had something you don’t always see around town: Enthusiasm.”

- Tony Gieske / The International Review of Music

Dale Fielder Quartet BARITONE SUNRIDE CD Review 03/01/2005 Jazz Review.com

There are few too recordings issued these days centered around the robust and sometimes surprisingly sensitive-sounding baritone saxophone. The potentially awkward horn, largest of the commonly-played saxophones, was really never considered a ‘soloing’ instrument until Duke Ellington started featuring the great baritone player Harry Carney in his orchestras in the late 1920s. But it was the emergence of Gerry Mulligan, Pepper Adams, and Serge Chaloff in the 1950s, the heyday of the bebop era, that really gave the instrument widespread public notice and showed that, in the right hands, the lumbering instrument could be played just as nimbly as any alto. Still, when one thinks of the great baritone players that have made a name for themselves since the 1950s, the list is short: Nick Brignola (who passed in 2002), Cecil Payne, Ronnie Cuber and Hamiet Bluiett are the only ones that immediately come to mind. Flash forward to the year 2004 and enter Dale Fielder. Fielder grew up in Pittsburgh PA, where he began studying music as a child and learned to play a variety of horns, including oboe, bassoon and tuba, in addition to clarinet and saxophone. He later attended the University of Pittsburgh’s Jazz Studies Program and played locally for a couple of years before eventually moving to New York City in 1980 to spread his wings. He began playing with some of the best musicians the city had to offer and his skill and experience continued to develop. In 1983, he founded his own jazz label, Clarion Jazz (the same label this album is released under), and recorded his first date as a leader, entitled Scene From A Dream. His hard work paid off as he started to gain widespread recognition for his original and daring style. In 1984, he was awarded a National Endowment For The Arts grant, which allowed him to complete his first large ensemble piece, The Aquarian, for alto saxophone and chamber orchestra. In 1988, Fielder relocated to Los Angeles and became a fixture in the city’s local jazz scene, where he was primarily known as an alto and tenor player, even though he also played soprano and baritone. But it was in mid-2004 that he made the decision to play baritone exclusively, and this album, Baritone Sunride, is the fruit of that decision and his first all-baritone recording. A hard-bop outing through and through, listening to Baritone Sunride gives you a rare glimpse of the power and beauty of this large horn when played by a master of Fielder’s talent. This collection of ten tunes (four standards and the remainder Fielder originals), also shows what a great composer he is. No matter how complex the chord changes, how odd the time signatures or how fast the tempos, the melodies are imminently hummable and stay with you long after the last note has faded. He also gives a nod to the influence of the great baritone players that have preceded him by including some of the standards that they often played. “Muezzin’” is a Pepper Adams original and the arrangement of Rogers and Hart’s “Lover” is in line with Pepper’s style of playing up-tempo tunes – with a variety of meter changes and long trades with the drums. “A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody,” written by Irving Berlin, was a favorite of Nick Brignola and “End Of A Love Affair” was often played by another master of the big horn, Charles Davis. While the influence of these legends are apparent in Fielder’s sound, he has created an approach to the instrument that is entirely his own. His tone is rich and vibrant, his phrasing is sharp and fluid and his solos are well-constructed yet endlessly inventive. His rhythm section, the other three pieces of the Dale Fielder Quartet, are no less talented and are all masters in their own right. Pianist Jane Getz (by the way, no relation to sax legend Stan Getz) and drummer Thomas White are members of the original Dale Fielder Quartet, which played its first gig on New Year’s Day, 1995. Bassist Trevor Ware joined the group in 1999. The benefit of their longtime 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 groups. If you are a fan of the baritone saxophone, you will absolutely love this album. Fielder’s chops are unequaled. I honestly don’t believe that there is 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.   

- Roman St. James  / Jazz Review.com


" FIELDER'S CHOICE"  Atlanta Creative Loafing 

The Atlanta International Jazz Society needs you---and fourscore like you. Then it’ll really be up and running. In the meanwhile, head hipster Robert Carmack continues to plug away at it, chiseling his little niche in a town that thinks jazz is any music without words/with a saxophone. Sad, isn’t it? Three and a half million people strong, and any saxophone will do . . . Those with a taste for the finer instrumentalists tend to present themselves at Churchill Grounds ---one of Atlanta’s only real jazz haunts. Small as it may be, CG is an oasis for which we’re grateful, and when a saxophonist such as Dale Fielder (sponsored by the AIJS) takes the stand, we tend to forget there’s anything else but great music. Cozy up to the bar on a chilly night, order a cup of java laced with your favorite spirits, and let the music take you away from it all. Fielder nurtures that ability. As a recent recipient of first place in the “BET On Jazz” Top Instrumental Performance competition, Dale Fielder is a hard-working improviser who knows his way around his horns. Alto, tenor, and soprano are his axes of choice --- all played with the same high degree of emotional outpouring. One of Fielder’s most endearing qualities is his inherent rawness. He can play very smoothly if he chooses but seldom goes that way. 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 such as "Troubadour Dreams" or the standard chestnut "Diane", Fielder’s lines always manage fruition, but his style demands that they stray out in left field, just missing the foul pole. Hey, its Fielder’s choice, but 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. The Atlanta-based rhythm section accompanying Fielder did our big small town proud. On numerous originals from Fielder’s latest CD, "Romance Serenade", drummer Jimmy Jackson read no charts, but played in a manner suggesting hours of rehearsal (in fact, no more than one short rehearsal prefaced this gig). He kicked the hell out of the swingers and laid low on a pair of subtle ballads. Bassist Anthony Chatman is near calling Atlanta home once again --- a move back that we anticipate with open arms. His full-bodied bass rang with a fierce understanding of the history of this music. Adroit ostinado into a cruising four, Chatman walks up a storm, but has his own rhythmic ideas thrown into the mix. Pianist Kenny Banks never sounded better. His mastery of accompaniment has been honed through years of gospel and jazz vocals, but on this night his soloing presents a complete dossier of understated brilliance. When it’s his turn to solo, Banks gets in, says it succinctly, then gets out without one extraneous note. Sublime. Nights like these are not easily forgotten. The sounds preserve well within the folds of countless neurons, always there for the taking. 

- James Rozzi  / Atlanta Creative Loafing


Dale Fielder Salutes Pepper Adams in a Recorded Concert 

Saxophonist Dale Fielder brought his fine quartet to Rosalie and Alva’s Performance Gallery once again last Saturday night (June 9, 2007) to record a tribute to hardbop baritone legend Pepper Adams before a live and appreciative audience. The quartet, which included Fielder regulars, Jane Getz, on piano, bassist Edwin Livingston and Thomas White at the drums, played two sets of music for inclusion on the group‘s next compact disc. The first set put the spotlight on seven compositions from the pen of Pepper Adams who, while known as a master of the bighorn, has never received sufficient credit for his music writing abilities. The second set paid homage to three other saxophone giants. A melodic tip-of-the-hat went to Sam Rivers’ “Cyclic Episode,” Wayne Shorter’s “Lester Left Town,” and Coltrane’s “After the Rain,” spiced up by some of Fielder’s own originals. Dale Fielder is an attuned and sensitive artist across the full spectrum of saxophones, although in the past few years he has concentrated much energy on the baritone citing a specific interest in the works of Pepper Adams. Fielder’s recent exclusively big horn CD, Baritone Sunrise featured an inspired music tribute to the great Adams entitled “Pepper’s Mood.” Fielder’s quartet set the evening rolling with Adams’ spirited “Rue Serpente.” Dale gave the first solo to bassist Livingston who took command and wove a lush web in the low register setting the stage for baritone fireworks. Fielder jumped in behind Livingston with style and grace. While Dale Fielder is passionate about the legacy of Pepper Adams, he could never be accused of being an imitator. Pepper Adams played with a hard, brittle edge to his tone as he roared through the changes. Dale displays a similar facility as he moves across the horn’s spectrum top-to-bottom, but Fielder has a less harsh sound, all his own, that polishes the edges and brings new beauty to Pepper’s works. Fielder adds more depth to Adams by performing on the other saxophones in his arsenal. On “Bossa Allegro,” he chooses the alto sax, commenting that he “Feels the beauty of this Pepper Adam’s tune gets lost in the baritone’s low range.” Edwin Livingston further enhances “Bossa” with some exceptional arco bass work for his solo. A true gem in the first set was a song associated with Adams, although not composed by the baritone master. “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” from the musical “Kismet” proved an excellent vehicle for the quartet. Taking the first shot out of the box, Jane Getz delivered a world-class piano solo, cutting it up and serving it hot! Fielder followed blowing long interesting ideas that toyed with the tunes original waltz-time. Pepper Adams wrote a deep and meaningful ballad, “Now In Our Lives,” in his last days of battling the cancer that took him from us. The Dale Fielder Quartet captures all the pathos of this introspective work while all four players dip it in such serious soul one can feel the composer’s questioning emotions. Fielder performed the second half of the evening primarily on tenor. By the point in the evening, all four had really settled into a comfortable swinging groove. Dale and company almost seemed to be more relaxed playing the saxophonist’s originals along with the “three tenors” salute. The pinnacle of part two proved to be a Fielder selection, “Light and Shadow,” excerpted from a larger work that the sax-man had composed for symphony orchestra. The structure of this piece appeared to be built on set chord changes interspersed with Lydian modal choruses. Again, on this work, Jane Getz captured the solo spotlight blowing some gorgeous, full, open-voiced changes. The Dale Fielder Quartet is fast becoming an L.A. legend, always delivering a dynamic and interesting performance of music that can be thoughtful while it is entertaining and enlivening. Dale Fielder, Jane Getz, Edwin Livingston and Thomas White are without a doubt a part of this writer’s circle of favorites.  

— Skoot Larson / LA Jazz Scene