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Jazz at the Atlas: Jeff Denson
October 12 @ 8:00 pm
Jazz at the Atlas
Outside My Window CD Release Concert
At first glance bassist Jeff Denson appears to reinvent himself on every album, and his 12th release as leader or co-leader, 6th under his name, Outside My Window, might seem like his biggest departure yet. Possessing a huge, galvanizing sound and a lyrically-charged compositional vision, the supremely versatile Denson has earned recognition over the past 15 years as one of his generation’s definitive bassists. Jeff has performed around the world in many of the top jazz festivals and venues with some of the biggest names in jazz such as Dave Douglas, Brian Blade, Joe Lovano and many more including being a member of jazz legend, Lee Konitz’s quartet for over 12 years. Released on his label Ridgeway Records on May 4, 2018, Outside My Window recalibrated his already expansive array of creative outlets by giving equal weight to his vocals. Working with a stellar international quartet, Denson delivers an emotionally taut program weaving together striking interpretations of iconic songs and deeply felt originals.
Denson’s music covers a lot of stylistic territory, “but my voice is a thread running through each one, whether I’m singing or not,” he says. “I was a singer before I was a bass player. Going into the jazz world I put my voice away for a long time. But this is a logical step for me, in that I’m using my voice more and more every year. This is the first time I’m singing throughout an entire album, and these songs are a direct continuation of the music I’ve been writing and arranging. Artists are always dreaming up what we’re doing,” he says. “My goal has always been very clearly to create my own musical world.”
A CD signing in lobby will follow the performance.
Artist biography: Jeff Denson – Bassist – Composer – Educator
“Playing music is a deeply spiritual experience for me – it is sacred. When it is pure it can be like traveling without moving – a gateway to another world or reality.”
In the current jazz environment, the art of jazz expression and the world of formal education are fully intertwined. Serious dedication to either path takes powerful commitment, but fully pursuing both demands a level of diligence and focus that is immensely challenging. Jeff Denson is a man who is meeting that challenge.
Fully immersed in both worlds since the late 1990s, the bassist/composer has balanced a full career as sideman and leader while taking a full course of studies leading to his doctorate. In addition to maintaining an intense performing and touring schedule in the U.S. and Europe while in school – including a long relationship with legendary saxophonist Lee Konitz that continues to this day – Jeff has also taught extensively all over both continents.
Today he is a full professor at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley, California and the Director of its Outreach Program designed to develop the Bay Area’s most talented musicians while making the local scene a productive and fertile environment for jazz. While this intensive level of activity is easily a full-time job, Jeff takes a relentless 24/7 approach, composing for and leading three distinct ensembles, participating in a few cooperative groups and working on his three-act Chamber Opera, WEBS.
At first glance, it might seem that Jeff Denson, like so many of the younger generation that has emerged in the past 20 years, is a product of the formalized jazz education system. This is simply not the case. In reality, he has developed in the age-old tradition that dates back to the earliest days of jazz – listen to the masters, sharing in oral traditions through his personal mentors, and straight-up hands-on experience in the trenches.
“I have the highest degree that a person can earn in music; however I owe a great deal of my ‘education’ to my experiences on the ‘street’ or on the bandstand.”