The Debut Sessions · New Piano Expressions
  • Debut DEB-121
    Debut DEB-121
  • Debut DLP-17
    Debut DLP-17
  • Max Roach & Mingus
    Max Roach & Mingus
  • Thad Jones
    Thad Jones

John Dennis

The Debut Sessions · New Piano Expressions

Fresh Sound Records

Personnel:
John Dennis (p), Thad Jones (tp), Charles Mingus (b), Max Roach (d)

Reference: FSRCD1106

Bar code: 8427328611060

Debut Records came into being in April 1952, and soon was boasting many new artists in its rapidly growing catalog. In March 1955, the label's producers, Charles Mingus and Max Roach, were the first to recognize the talents of a 25-year-old pianist from Philadelphia with an adventurous and creative mind, and a magician's touch: John Dennis. He put these qualities to good use in the recording session for the album Thad Jones / CharlesMingus —Jazz Collaborations. As a result, Mingus and Roach decided to record the same day another album with him as a leader, with a title hinting at the producers' belief in him: New Piano Expressions. This event marked the arrival of John Dennis: his daring and advanced ideas left the entire jazz scene in awe and intrigue.

In an interview with vibraphonist Walt Dickerson about Dennis, he mentioned, “His parents were fundamentalists who put a lot of pressure on him not to play the devil's music… it has a physical effect when an artist cannot continue to search and develop his artistry, something happens to that person both physically and mentally… I learned that many people die from a broken heart, nothing wrong with them physically, they're broken-hearted and just give up… and that's what happened to John…”

After listening to these recordings, we can only imagine how far he could have come if his career hadn't been interrupted so suddenly. John Dennis died in 1963, eight years after his only recordings, at the young age of 33.



01. Ensenada (John Dennis) 5:22
02. Odyssey (John Dennis) 4:15
03. Machajo (Dennis-Mingus-Roach) 4:01
04. Chartreuse (John Dennis) 3:52
05. Cherokee (Ray Noble) 4:14
06. Variegations (John Dennis) 6:30
07. Seven Moons (John Dennis) 3:59
08. Someone to Watch Over Me (G. & I. Gershwin) 3:40
09. One More (Thad Jones) 7:30
10. I Can't Get Started (Duke-Gershwin) 6:05
11. More of the Same (Thad Jones) 5:10
12. Get Out of Town (Cole Porter) 8:45

Album details

Sources:
Tracks #1-8, from the 12-inch album “New Piano Expressions” (Debut DEB-121)
Tracks #9-12, from the 10-inch album “Jazz Collaborations, Vol.1” (Debut DLP-17)

Personnel on "New Piano Expressions":
John Dennis, piano (unaccompanied on #2,4,6,8); Charles Mingus, bass (#1,3,5,7), Max Roach, drums (#1,3,5,7).
Recorded in Hackensack, New Jersey, March 10, 1955

Personnel on "Jazz Collaborations":
Thad Jones, trumpet added.
Recorded in Hackensack, New Jersey, March 10, 1955

Liner notes by Morris Eagle & Barry Ulanov
New liner notes: Jordi Pujol
Original recordings produced by Charles Mingus and Max Roach
This CD compilation produced by Jordi Pujol

Hi Fi · 24-Bit Digitally Remastered
Blue Moon Producciones Discograficas S.L.

Press reviews

CHOC Jazz Magazine

"Comme son nom l’indiquait, Debut Records avait vocation à faire découvrir de nouveaux talents - Paul Bley, Hank Mobley ou Thad Jones y firent leurs débuts. Parut ensuite sous le nom de Mingus et Jones “Jazz Collaborations”, gravé le 10 mars 1955. Le trompettiste annonce la couleur - maîtrise et puissance expressive - dès les 25 (!) chorus qu’il s’offre sur One More en ouverture. La machine est chauffée à blanc par le tandem Charles Mingus/Max Roach et un pianiste inconnu de 25 ans, John Dennis. Il fait si forte impression que huit plages, gravées le même jour en solo et trio, seront éditées peu après par Debut (“New Piano Expressions”). S’y affirme un compositeur (5 originaux) et un improvisateur capable d’une étonnante diversité d’atmosphères, entre Machajo, démarcation d’/Got Rhythm d’une liberté et d’une audace contrapuntique inimaginables, et des ballades ou des blues au lyrisme intense (sur Chartreuse on pense à Billy Strayhorn) ou Odyssey. Audace encore avec Variegations, improvisation de 6’30 où la maîtrise des changements d’atmosphère n’a d’égal que le contrôle de la forme d’ensemble. Un potentiel hors du commun qu’on comparera à Martial Solai pour la synthèse qu’il offre alors entre Bud Powell et Art Tatum, avec un penchant pour les extensions harmoniques, la gamme par tons et la prise de risques (effarant Cherokee!). Les deux albums de cette réédition soignée - impeccable techniquement et richement documentée - resteront les seuls témoignages du pianiste dont la disparition prématurée (en 1963, à 33 ans) nous condamne à simplement imaginer la carrière à  venir."

—Vincent Cotro (Fevrier, 2022)
Jazz Magazine
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Before he became known as the most famous/notorious bassist/composer in jazz, Charles Mingus was a member of the fledgling Debut catalogue, which specialized in the “New Thing” of adventurous Bop. One of Mingus' discoveries was Bud Powell-influenced piano man John Dennis, who's 1955 debut is included and featured here.

Teamed with Dennis and Mingus is the forward looking drummer Max Roach, and the March session has vintage bop pieces like “Ensenada”, a nice Latin lover in “Mahajo” and a tribally swinging “Cherokee”, with Mingus’ fingers doing wonders. . He goes solo on a few tracks, like  the bluesy “Odyssey” and a romantic “Chartreuse” while showing elliptical harmonies on “Variegations”. Mingus' fingers do wonders with Roach on the tribal “Sr. Thad Jones,” another Mingus discovery, joins in to create a quartet for a handful of tunes. He's muted on a misty “I Can't Get Started” and “Get Out of Town”, with Mingus throbbing like a jogger's pulse her and as they bop into the night on “More of The Same”. Bop's next step."

—George W. Harris (January 17, 2022)
https://www.jazzweekly.com

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