The Sean dobbins all-star tribute ensemble

We Love Curtis & JJ: A tribute to trombonist J.J. Johnson
& Detroit's own Curtis Fuller

Sunday, February 28 @ 4:15 PM EST

This concert is generously sponsored by the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.

The Sean Dobbins All-Star Tribute Ensemble was created exclusively for Kerrytown Concert House with the aim of celebrating the contributions of jazz instrumentalists and vocalists who have had a significant impact on the art form. Collaborating with a different combo of jazz “All-Stars” for each concert, drummer Sean Dobbins will feature a variety of musical combinations and themes in this series, weaving brief discussions and interviews in the program that will offer a unique experience each time!

For this inaugural performance, Sean brings along the following All-Star line-up to help him pay tribute to trombonist J.J Johnson and Detroit’s own Curtis Fuller: Rick Roe (piano), Brandon Rose (bass) and trombonist extraordinaire Michael Dease!

Jazz drummer Sean Dobbins got his start as sought-after Detroit area jazz sideman at a young age, when he would regularly play with Blue Note artist Louis Smith. As Sean’s Career progressed, he found himself the recipient of many awards and accolades including the “Woody Herman Jazz Award”, an award for outstanding musicianship, as well as the Louis Armstrong Scholarship. Due to Sean’s great talent both as a player and an educator, he has been the focus of countless news articles and jazz radio programs.

Though still young by jazz standards, Dobbins has amassed an impressive list of playing companions. He has performed/toured/recorded with Johnny Basset, Benny Golson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Frank Morgan, Joey DeFrancesco, George Cables, James “Blood” Ulmer, Marcus Belgrave, Larry Willis, Rodney Whittaker, Claude Black, Johnny O’Neal, Paul Keller, Tad Weed, Kurt Krahnke, Jon Hendricks, David “Fathead” Newman, Donald Walden, Cyrus Chesnut, Barry Harris, David Baker, Randy Johnston, Marion Hayden, Mose Allison, and a host of other great musicians.

Sean’s sound can best be described as hard-driving, solid rhythm with refreshing melodic sensibility. Some of Sean’s influences include Art Blakey, Jeff Hamilton, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Ed Thigpen, Sonny Payne, and also Detroit area greats Gerald Cleaver and the one and only Elvin Jones. A product of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, Sean has stayed devoted to education throughout his life. Early mentor Louis Smith, an Ann Arbor Public Schools band teacher, impressed the importance of a good education upon Sean at an early age. Sean is known in his community as a band director, drum teacher and positive influence for many.

In 1999 Sean was asked to become the director of the Ann Arbor Public Schools Summer Jazz Program. This program was designed to help educate and inspire young artist as they began their quest of learning jazz. In 1998, a year before Sean’s arrival, the program was in jeopardy of being cancelled due to low enrollment. In 2000, a year after Sean took over the reigns, the enrollment more than tripled and a year later, the group was featured on WEMU, a national jazz radio program.

As a father of three, Sean knows, understands, and accepts the challenge of continuing the art from through clinics, master classes, and concerts for up and coming musicians. Sean makes it a point of incorporating educational opportunities into all of his road trips. Sean is no stranger to local or national headlines; he frequently plays at venues such as the Firefly Club (Ann Arbor), Baker’s Keyboard Lounge (Detroit), the Music Hall Jazz Cafe (Detroit), Murphy’s Place (Toledo) and Buddy Guy’s (Chicago). His recent recordings include “Odyssey” (PKO Records), “Revealing” (Reparation Records), and “Christmas Songs for Jazz Lovers” (PKO Records), and Blue Horizons featuring Sean and his quintet, the Modern Jazz Messengers.

Rick Roe won first place in the Great American Jazz Piano Competition in 1994, was twice a semifinalist in Thelonius Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, in 1993 and 1999, and has been a featured performer in the Jacksonville (Florida) Jazz, Savannah (Georgia) Onstage International Arts, Montreaux/Detroit Jazz, Birmingham Jazz, Lansing Jazz, Flint Jazz, and Hawaii Jazz (with Frank Morgan) Festivals.

Mr. Roe has served as an educator/clinician at the University of Arizona, North Texas University, Michigan State University, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the University of Michigan, and the Montreaux/ Detroit Jazz Festival. He has given performances with Marcus Belgrave, Donald Walden, Rodney Whitaker, Frank Foster, Andrew Speight, Wycliffe Gordon, Gerald Cleaver, Victor Goines, Louis Smith, Randy Gelispie, Vincent York, Wendall Harrison, Dwight Adams, and many others. His recordings include “The Changeover” (1997), “Monk’s Modern Music” (1995), and “Sphere” (2005).

Brandon Rose began playing the bass guitar at the age of 5. He asked his father to buy him a bass guitar for Christmas while on stage at Word of Faith Christian Church in Southfield, Michigan. Brandon began working with Henry Roberson, the church bass player and after one lesson Mr. Roberson proclaimed, “this kid is a natural ! ” Brandon continued his studies and eventually honed his skills playing bass for the youth choir at Word of Faith.

Over the years, as Brandon’s talent developed, he was invited to Los Angeles on several occasions to play his bass in vendor’s booths at the NAMM show and for Bass Player Live sponsored events. He is endorsed by Fender Bass Guitars, SWR Bass Amps and D.R. Strings.

Brandon has played with and for bass greats such as Marcus Miller, Stanley Clark, Ricky Minor, Ralphe Armstrong, Jeff Berlin, Christian McBride and Rodney Whitaker. He has appeared in Bass Player Magazine, performed on the Bobby Jones Gospel Show and made it to the third round of tryouts for NBC’s America’s Got Talent.  Most recently Brandon auditioned and was accepted as a Geri Allen Fellow with the Carr Center. He is now a member of The Gathering Orchestra where he will continue his professional development for the next two years.

Michael Dease is one of the world’s eminent trombonists, lending his versatile sound and signature improvisations to over 200 recordings and groups as diverse as Grammy Award-winning artists David Sanborn, Christian McBride, Michel Camilo and Alicia Keys. Born in Augusta, GA, he played the saxophone and trumpet before choosing the trombone at age 17. In 2001, Dease moved to New York City to become part of the historic first class of jazz students at The Juilliard School, earning both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree and quickly establishing a reputation as a brilliant soloist, sideperson and bandleader.

Dease, winner of DownBeat Magazine’s Critics Poll for Rising Star Jazz Trombone and Hot House Jazz Magazine’s Trombonist of the Year, is a multiple Grammy Award-winning collaborator and a sought after lead, section and bass trombonist with the leading jazz orchestras of his time. His experience includes performing with bands led by Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, Charles Tolliver and Rufus Reid as well as Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band. However, it is on the frontline of quintets and sextets led by master musicians such as the Heath Brothers, Winard Harper, Renee Rosnes, Bill Charlap, Claudio Roditi and Lewis Nash where Dease has revitalized the trombone’s image. No less that jazz trombone legends Slide Hampton, Curtis Fuller, Bill Watrous and Fred Wesley have cited Dease as their favorite trombonist in the jazz world. Not content to simply improvise, Dease arranges and composes for many different bands, constantly adjusting his tone and timbre to add just the right flavor to the music.

A unique blend of curiosity, hard work and optimism has helped Dease earn worldwide recognition, including awards from ASCAP, the International Trombone Association, Yamaha, the Eastern Trombone Workshop, New York Youth Symphony, Hot House Magazine and Michigan State University, among others. He was profiled in Cicily Janus’ book The New Face of Jazz: An Intimate Look at Today’s Living Legends and the Artists of Tomorrow (Random House). His experience in the studio has led him to produce several recording sessions for emerging artists, often composing and writing liner notes for the releases.

Dease’s singular talent has made him an effective and prolific teacher, resulting in invitations, master classes and residencies at the University of North Texas, The University of Scranton, University of Iowa, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Broward College and many institutions abroad. He serves as Professor of Jazz Trombone at the renowned Michigan State University Jazz Studies Program and has been on faculty at Queens College – CUNY, The New School and Northeastern University. Many of Dease’s students are enjoying successful careers in the music world.

His associations have run the entire spectrum of musical experience from Alicia Keys to Paul Simon, Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra, Elton John, Neil Diamond, Illinois Jacquet, Slide Hampton & The World of Trombones, Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, the WDR Big Band, George Gruntz, Billy Harper and numerous others. Dease is a Yamaha Performing Artist and performs on Yamaha Trombones, Trumpets and Saxophones exclusively.

Dease enjoys spending every possible minute with his extraordinary wife and Professor of Percussion at Michigan State University, Gwendolyn Dease, and their daughters Brooklyn and Charly. He is also an aspiring painter, sports car enthusiast, amateur coffee snob and 1980s horror movie aficionado, and enjoys scooting up and down the Michigan highways in his Porsche Boxster Cabriolet.