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Dennis Angel interview page 2

Dennis AngelJM: Tell me about the formation of The Dennis Angel Band and the charitable element involved?

DA: I had been playing with saxophonist Gottfried Stoger since the Wall Street song, and we’ve gone through different players. I had a daughter who died from a brain tumor in 1989, and had been involved over the years in different charities. In 2009, I was approached to put a musical revue together to perform concerts for several non-profits, including the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation. The band I put together for these events, which originally included Gottfried and guitarist Gil Parris, soon became “The Dennis Angel Band.” We performed at many prominent venues, including the Iridium and the Triad in Manhattan and the Watercolor Café in Westchester. These days the band includes Jon Werking on piano, Phil Palombi on bass and Nadav Snir Zelnicker on drums. It’s great working with these guys.

JM: What precipitated your decision to work on your 2012 debut Timeless Grooves?

DA: This may sound strange to some people, but I thought it might be interesting to meet with a psychic woman in L.A. who was a friend of one of my daughter’s. She gave me some free sessions and instead of just telling me my future, she asked what I really wanted to do. I told her I never really followed up on my trumpet playing or taken it where I wanted to. I didn’t talk to her to have her tell me what I should do, but her words sort of led me to where I think I was naturally going. It also occurred to me that as trumpeters get older, their lips are shot and they can’t play as well anymore. Jason Gorov promoted “From Bebop to Hip-Hop” and I followed up with four more songs and a holiday tune, and he suggested that I do a full album. He hooked me up with Jason Miles and it was a great match. We recorded “Rio on My Mind” on trumpet but Jason thought it might sound better on flugelhorn and so I fell in love with that instrument’s sound and feel. It was the first time I had ever played it.

JM: Tell me about the process of making Timeless Grooves – and what did you learn about yourself?

DA: It was a very enjoyable process. I had written a few songs featuring vocals and the guys in my band kept encouraging me to write more instrumentals. When Jason Gorov encouraged me with some of them, I brought them to Jason Miles and we went to work developing them. It was kind of intense at first. I was intimated by his background working with legends and knew that Miles Davis had once called him a genius. Jason was tough on me in that first session, but it was worth it. The song came out well and this launched a nice friendship and working relationship. He has very high standards and brought in amazing musicians to play on my songs. He also encouraged me to write more. My musical experiences up to this point were related to playing the trumpet and private lessons. So I learned a lot about developing compositions and producing them. I would write out the melodies and Jason and others would embellish them and add space where it made the songs better. Everything started with my catchy melodies but they added necessary depth to them.

Dennis AngelJM: Some people who have successful non-musical careers do one album, get it out of your system and move on. What inspired you to stay in the game and record On Track? What is the significance of the name?

DA: That happens because of the reality of being an independent artist in this business, where it’s tough to make a profit on even outstanding recordings. But for me, I received enough encouragement from my first album that it made sense to commit to this new career. I am so encouraged by the positive reviews. One writer said, “You know that expression, ‘Don’t quit your day job?’ That doesn’t apply to Dennis Angel.” And I also love the fact that people are appreciating Rebecca’s contributions. She’s a jazz vocal major at Ithaca College and it was a pleasure to record with her and have her perform recently with me at this great new club in the East Village called Café Noctambulo at Pangea. I came up with even better songs for On Track. I figured I learned a lot from the first album so this one would be even better. This time, unlike before, I worked with Jason Miles from beginning to end, starting every song from scratch. I feel like this is more of a concept album. My wife came up with the title, which speaks for itself. We’re going in the direction where we want to go – and that I’ve dreamed of all my life.