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EXCERPTS FROM Larry A. Derwiler's Review in June 2007's Jazz Improv Magazine

"Following a stint with the United States Navy Band in Hawaii, the versatile reedman James L. Dean became a fixture on the New York metro-are club date and show band scene.  Dean formed the JLD Big Band in 1995 and following an 8 year run at Tierney's Tavern in Montclair, NJ, the JLD Big Band moved its regular venue to The Whiskey Cafe, a popular dance club in the nearby New Jersey Meadowlands.  This CD, recorded live at The Whiskey Cafe on January 3, 2004 marks the JLD Big Band's debut release, and judging from the excellence of this band I would fully expect more releases and many more years at The Whiskey Cafe to follow...

...After Listening to this CD a couple times there are a few things I would like to point out.  First, if you enjoyed the work of Sinatra/Basie (or any of the secondary vocalist/combos for that matter) you will love this CD.  Secondly, I am very impressed with the sound quality of this recording given the fact that it was recorded live.  Thirdly, this is an excellent band from top to bottom,  I don't think anyone should be able to pick out a weak section.  I certainly could not.  And finally, I felt there were 4 real stars on this CD: the vocalist Van Martin; James L. Dean on sax/clarinet; David Braham, who was excellent on piano whether soloing or playing with the ensemble; and Billy VerPlaank, who contributed some outstanding arrangements...

...It would be a real joy to spend an evening with this band!  If the folks around the Meadowlands are smart, The Whiskey Cafe is packed every time they play.  Come to think of it, I'm not that far from NJ.  I would highly consider making the drive just to hear this band in person, and i highly recommend this CD to everyone else!"

- -
[This review may be found in its entirety at in the June 2007 New York Jazz Guide}

EXCERPT FROM Johnny Adams "Carmel Voice" COLUMN, CARMEL BY THE SEA, CA - Feb. 2007

"...High quality and varied writing spark this big band of James L. Dean.  All the music in this release bring back the sounds of the dance era.  As for the vocals by Van Martin, I found it refreshing to hear songs such as "All Or Nothing At All" and "Without A Song" approached the way the composers intended them to be sing.  The material, all 13 songs chosen for this date, was very predictable.  As for Dean, his tenor saxophone remains an exciting loose flowing soloist throughout.  The tune range from the pens of Cole Porter, Artie Shaw, Vincent Youmans, and Johnny Mandell.  The arrangements are by Billy Ver Planck and James L. Dean.  Each offers a feeling that you want to listen to or dance to.  This band has about everything: strong lean, mean, and tight ensemble playing; and fine soloists.  I think everyone should buy this record because music lovers can reminisce, and get a taste of what the big band era was all about.  I would stack this band up against virtually any band in the country.  It has produced more genuinely fresh big band sounds than any bands around today.  It is available on the CEXTON label." 

- - [Johnny Adams is heard Sunday's at 10AM on KNRY AM  1240 from Monterey, CA]

EXCERPT FROM "O's Notes" - O's Place Jazz Newsletter, spring 2007

"...This is a polished big band playing thirteen swinging songs.  This is music to dance to, ballroom style or music to listen to.  It even packs enough energy for a workout.  Among the best tracks are "Last Train To overbrook", "Swing", and "I Concentrate On You".  Dean leads the big band and also plays sax and clarinet with Van Martin adding a few vocals on top of a strong large ensemble."


"...With the release of Swingin' At The Whiskey Cafe (Cexton - 61812) Dean has finally gotten the sound of his big band captured on disc. The gig at the Whiskey Cafe is geared to dancing crowd, but the charts on this album are designed for listening as well as moving. Billy VerPlanck has supplied the charts for "I Concentrate On You", "El Cajon", "Last Train From Overbrook", and "Swing".  Dean arranged "Inventory", while "The Groove" is an Artie Shaw original that uses Shaw's arrangement, and "Oh Baby" is based on a Mel Powell arrangement for the Benny Goodman Orchestra.  Vocalist Van Martin is featured on about half of the tracks utilizing original charts written for Frank Sinatra by Billy May, Quincy Jones, and Nelson Riddle.  Dean and his whole crew have well absorbed the swing idiom and have produced an album's worth of fine dance music that never loses its jazz base."


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"Dean's main instrument is tenor, on which he has a full, muscular, somewhat grainy sound and energetic style."

 - Dale Smoak, CADENCE

"Reedman Dean comes up with his second winning CD (Mise-En-Scene) from this small label." - George Kanzler NEWARK STAR LEDGER  
"Dean's sound is huge, commanding, and with that air of assured insolence we associate with great tenors such as Dexter Gordon and George Coleman." - Alun Morgan ENGLAND JAZZ JOURNAL  
"His tone , essentially legato in the manner of Stan Getz and a rounded Hank Mobley, is counterballanced by an imaginative occasionally elip[tical linear perspective suggestive of Wayne Shorter." - Gene Lalbacher EDITOR OF "HOT HOUSE" NEW MUSIC REPORT  
"James has a gutsy masculine sound on tenor, on clarinet, a limpid, pellucid timbre, and his flute work is attractive and full toned." - Ken Ratterbury CRESCENDO MAGAZINE  
"His alto playing is very strong and assured.  As with all good doublers, I can't be sure which instrument is Dean's main ax.  He plays tenor, alto, and clarinet equally well." - Paul Evoskevich SAXOPHONE JOURNAL  
"Multi talented woodwind player James L. Dean has delivered another finely crafted straight-ahead disk with Mood Swings." - Jonathan Barg LA JAZZ SCENE MAGAZINE  
"The album Generations is an impressive introduction to the multi talents of James L. Dean.  On alto and tenor he melds intensity and intelligence to produce a very convincing cool/hard bop synthesis." - Alan Bargebuhr CADENCE MAGAZINE  
"Dean's art (Clari-Trane) is well worth hearing, and tons more interesting than that of many, more famous players." - -Chris Kelsey CADENCE MAGAZINE  
"Based on this CD alone (Clari-Trane), Dean should be rated among the top five or six clarinetist currently active." - Scott Yarnow LA JAZZ SCENE MAGAZINE  


Links to  More Raves from the Critics

IAJE Article Featuring The "Swingin' At The Whiskey Cafe" CD!

Verona-Cedar Grove Times

Page Eighteen

Caught In the Act

Big Band Believers

Bergen Record

Bergen County - Department of Parks Memo

Steppin' Out


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