Things fell into place quickly for Dease, as he caught the ear of several veteran musicians not long after coming to New York. His first major break came when he was asked to join Illinois Jacquet’s Big Band, with whom he made his debut recording, and he’s never looked back. Since then, the trombonist has performed and toured with the big bands of Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, Christian McBride, Charles Tolliver and David Weiss.
In June 2008, Michael joined the Dizzy Gillespie™All-Star Big Band. He has also performed with Natalie Cole, Jamie Cullum, Wycliffe Gordon, Jason Hainsworth Jazz Orchestra, Slide Hampton’s World of Trombones, Herbie Hancock, Billy Harper, John Lee, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, Luis Miguel, James Moody, Nicholas Payton, Claudio Roditi, Paul Simon, and Mark Whitfield.
Born August 25th, 1982 in Augusta, Georgia, Michael initially played alto and tenor saxophones. The switch to trombone came abruptly during his senior year in high school. It was such a natural transition that Michael won four all-state competitions before graduating . In the fall of 2001, after moving to New York, Dease began studying with fellow Augusta, Georgia native Wycliffe Gordon during the inaugural year of The Juilliard School’s jazz program. Michael spent five years at Juilliard earning Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in jazz performance.
Dease has won many prizes, including a hand made trombone from the English instrument manufacturer, Michael Rath Trombones. Additional honors include the International Trombone Association’s Frank Rosolino Award, the J.J. Johnson Prize and the Kai Winding Jazz Ensemble Trophy. In 2004, Dease earned a Yamaha Young Performing Artist Award, and a “Best Jazz Instrumentalist” distinction in the June 2004 edition of Downbeat Magazine. In 2007 Michael was awarded the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award. Dease was also among the musicians profiled in author Cicily Janus’ book, The New Face of Jazz (Random House).
For a player still in his twenties, Dease has amassed an impressive discography. He has appeared on the Dizzy Gillespie™All-Star Big Band’s I’m Beboppin’ Too, Charles Tolliver Big Band’s Emperor March, innovative jazz master Illinois Jacquet’s final recording Swingin’ Live with Illinois Jacquet, Claudio Roditi’s Simpatico, and Sharel Cassity’s Relentless.
Dease recorded his first CD The Takeover in 2005 while co-leading a quintet with tenor saxophonist Chris Madsen. This was followed by Dease Bones in 2007, which featured six additional trombonists and special guest Wycliffe Gordon.
In 2008, Clarity was released, showcasing Michael’s writing and arranging skills. He has also recorded with Alicia Keys’ (the Grammy-winning track Superwoman), The Curtis Brothers, Room Eleven, Waitiki 7, Matthew Garrison, Brandon Lee, Brandon McCune, and Thomas Barber’s Janus Bloc. Learning the ropes of producing from veteran John Lee, Dease launched his own record label, D Clef Records, in 2008.
Grace, Dease’s fourth release as a leader features Roy Hargrove, Claudio Roditi, Eric Alexander, Cyrus Chestnut, Mark Whitfield, Rufus Reid, John Lee, and Gene Jackson. It was released June 1st, 2010 on JLP, Jazz Legacy Productions.
The trombonist stays busy composing, arranging and producing. He is a regular lecturer at Northeastern University in Boston, and an instructor at the Queens College CUNY and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City (three of his students have been accepted into The Juilliard School). Michael frequently takes part in jazz workshops at universities worldwide.
NEA Jazz Master Curtis Fuller, Dease’s original inspiration to switch to trombone and a valuable mentor, stated “I predict that Michael Dease will become one of the world’s great trombone masters” in a 2004 interview. With his considerable chops and writing skills, Michael Dease has what it takes to leave a lasting mark in jazz.