Long-time jazz educator, head of Jazz Studies at the University of Minnesota, renowned arranger for the Glenn Miller Orchestra and more, Dean Sorenson is also an accomplished trombonist and bandleader who is not heard on the bandstand often enough. Dean recently came out of the classroom with a newly assembled sextet of local veterans, played a gig at Jazz Central Studios and soon after brought the band into the studio at Creation Audio, yielding the soaring tracks of Colors of the Soul. Now the Dean Sorenson Sextet (Sorenson, Steve Kenny, David Milne, Chris Lomheim, Tom Lewis, Phil Hey) returns to the scene of the CD release, appearing on the Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog series in St. Paul’s Lowertown on February 6 at 8:30 pm. Come early and enjoy an opening set with the Nick Syman Quartet.
Nick Syman Quartet (7 pm)
Young trombone master Nick Syman plays regularly with the Adam Meckler Orchestra and the Nexus Ensemble. His resume includes big bands, West African drum ensembles, experimental electro bands, funk bands, Latin Jazz ensembles, bluegrass, pop bands and small jazz groups. A graduate of St. John’s with a master’s degree from Indiana University, Nick currently directs bands and jazz ensembles at Hudson (WI) High School. His quartet includes three of the most in-demand young jazz artists in the Metro — Ted Godbout (piano), Ted Olsen (bass) and Pete James Johnson (drums).
Dean Sorenson Sextet (8:30 pm)
Dean Sorenson is Associate Professor and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Minnesota as well as a prolific and highly sought-after composer, arranger, trombonist, educator, and clinician. He received his bachelor’s degree in trombone performance from the University of Minnesota and his master’s degree in jazz arranging and composition from the Eastman School of Music. Dean has composed and arranged for such ensembles as the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Airmen of Note, US Air Force Band and Minnesota Orchestra. Throughout his career, he has also composed and arranged for commissions for jazz bands, concert bands, chamber ensembles, and choral groups. Dean is a prolific author of jazz education publications, including his recent Standard of Excellence First Jazz Performance, a collection of charts for elementary bands. He’s also co-authored a series of jazz method books for middle and high school jazz ensembles that are used throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia and Great Britain, and is continually developing instructional materials for students and teachers. In addition to his teaching duties at the U of M, Dean has taught at the Shell Lake Arts Center and Tri-tone Jazz Fantasy Camp. Dean also maintains a concert and recording schedule as a Yamaha Performing Artist, and has performed with the JazzMN Orchestra, touring shows, and recently with the Temptations at Orchestra Hall.
Despite his years in music, the Dean Sorenson Sextet is the trombonist’s first experience leading his own band. “It is inspiring, energizing….and scary!,” he says. “It makes all the difference to be surrounded by the players I am blessed to be able to play with.” And the players on Colors of the Soul are “who’s who” list of local veterans: Steve Kenny (flumpet) curates the Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog and Friday Night Jazz at The Nicollet series as well as two summers of All Originals Jazz at Studio Z. He leads Group 47, the Steve Kenny Quartet and What Would Monk Do, and performs with a long list of artists and ensembles in the metro region. David Milne is a Professor of Music and former head of the jazz program at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He also plays saxophones and flute regularly with the Pete Whitman X-Tet, in duo with Laura Caviani, with the Ancia Saxophone Quartet. Pianist Chris Lomheim’s affinity for Bill Evans shines through every note he plays and every composition he writes. He has recorded three acclaimed albums with his trio, including 2014’s Timelines. He also performs with the Illicit Sextet, Dave Karr Quartet, and a long list of area vocalists. Bassist Tom Lewis has long been affiliated with the Phil Hey Quartet; he currently performs with Charmin and Shapira and Friends, Bottomless Pit and more. Among his many credits, drummer Phil Hey spent 20 years working with Dewey Redman; more recently he toured with vocalist Stacy Kent. His Phil Hey Quartet has ignited audiences for the past two decades; he also performs with Chris Bates’ Good Vibes Trio, the Tommy O’Donnell Trio, Benny Weinbeck Trio, Pete Whitman X-Tet and more.
There are many colors to the soul of Dean Sorenson, and thankfully he has turned some of his attention now to writing music that he himself will play and direct. Few bands together for such a short time would have the nerve to go into the studio with a pile of new tunes. But then, few bands together for any period of time have the talent and experience of the Dean Sorenson Sextet, or the writing of a Dean Sorenson to make that talent shine.
The Black Dog is located at 308 Prince Street (at E. 4th Street and Broadway) in St. Paul’s Lowertown Arts District. CDs available at the show. No cover – donations ($10 suggested) to support the musicians and jazz series appreciated. www.saturdaynightjazzattheblackdog.info