Album: Black Lion EP
After releasing six albums as a leader, including his well received live recording Dezron Douglas: Live at Smalls (★★★★, Downbeat Magazine), Douglas has embarked on his most personal and creative project yet with the Black Lion’s debut studio recording. Douglas will celebrate this release at Birdland, NYC on Sunday, January 20th at 7:30pm.
This six-track EP is presented by a collection of like-minded – both musically and spiritually – friends and associates, who work to display the visions and perspectives of the acclaimed bassist. Featuring Stacy Dillard and Lummie Spann on saxophones, Josh Evans on trumpet, David Bryant and Willerm Delisfort on piano and organ and Jeremy “BEAN” Clemons on drums, Black Lion was created to give Dezron the opportunity to lead a band with a personal story; it’s his vision, no frills attached. After years of performing live exclusively, Dezron Douglas is excited to gift his following with a studio recording – a message – that will be there throughout the continuum time of space. Dezron plans to release a full length album by the end of 2019.
With a keen focus on authenticity, Black Lion is true a snapshot of what goes on behind the scenes. Everything is honest – direct from his mind, direct from his heart and every one of his ideas is given the opportunity to shine. The six-track collection kicks off with “Uhuru Vibrations” - a tune that highlights the discourse between today’s culture and black pride. While “Negroidius Maximus” is an ode to drummer Neal Smith, who Douglas had the pleasure of working alongside in Cyrus Chestnut’s Trio for seven years, “Alexis” was written for harpist Brandee Younger. Douglas and Younger have been associated with each other, both musically and personally, for almost 20 years and “Alexis” is centered around both the inner and outer beauty of a woman. “Great Provider” is a reggae tune Douglas wrote in dedication to and in appreciation of God. Consequent to graduating from college, Douglas had many moments of realization and self meditation. One particular moment experienced by the bassist during this period is signified on the lead single “Soulris” - Douglas heard the bassline in his head, and upon opening his eyes, his thoughts became clear - “I just let my pen do the listening as my heart poured out on my Rhodes”. “Bottoms Out” the 6th track on “Black Lion” is an homage to his time spent in his hometown of Hartford and it’s one of many meaningful tunes written by Douglas.
Douglas and his bandmates have known each other for nearly two decades- spending time together in Hartford, CT as well as moving to New York around the same time. They are bandleaders and composers in their own right and have challenged Douglas to be a better musician in every note he plays. To his audience, Douglas hopes that they open their hearts and listen to what he has to say. “You don’t have to love it, but just give me a chance to affect you as I give you all a chance everyday”.
Mentored by the great Jackie McLean from a young age, Dezron Douglas is one of the most called-upon bassists on the contemporary jazz scene. Active for nearly fifteen years, the bassist has continued to perform and record with Michael Carvin, Pharoah Sanders, Cyrus Chestnut, Louis Hayes, George Cables, Abraham Burton/Eric McPherson, Rene McLean, Al Foster, Ravi Coltrane, Billy Drummond, Steve Davis, Victor Lewis, Winard Harper, Mulgrew Miller, Lewis Nash, Kevin Mahogany, Carla Cook, Kenny Garrett, Steve Coleman, Willie Jones III, Duane Eubanks, Eric Reed, Tomasz Stanko, Vincent Herring, Papo Vazquez and The Marsalis Family. While he is primarily known as an upright bassist, he frequently plays electric with the likes of Jennifer Hartswick, Brandee Younger, Nickel and Dime Ops, and others.
Dezron is currently a member of Louis Hayes Jazz Communicators, Ravi Coltrane Quartet, Papo Vazquez Mighty Pirates, and he was also a long standing member of The Cyrus Chestnut Trio amongst many other associations within the music scene. Douglas’s most recent appearance on record is Makaya McCraven’s internationally lauded Universal Beings (International Anthem); the track “Black Lion” is named for the bassist.
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"Black Lion is a stellar work which showcases true maturity, exudes genuine confidence and provides for an exciting and fulfilling listening experience." Read the full track feature for "Soulris" here.
"The horn charts are hot and tight, and Douglas and Clemons are perfectly locked in; the drummer’s playing is aggressive, almost rock-like at times."
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"It's striking, regal, moody, even a bit dangerous—and that's just the cover." Read the full review here.
JAZZ QUAD (RUSSIA)
"...the level of performance is extremely high." Read the full Russian review here.
"...lush harmonies that feel closer to what you might hear on a Jazz Messengers record." Read the full audio premiere here.
"The opening “Soulris” is a spiritual jazz-funk track with emotional power and spiky interplay among the horns, with piano and organ giving it a powerful foundation." Read the full review and stream "Soulris" here.
MARLBANK MUSIC BLOG
"‘Uhuru Vibration’ at the end is the real treat of the whole affair when you can really get an obvious inkling of how much a master Douglas is on bass when he opens with a hugely woody feature that will make you hit the repeat button again and again." Read the full Album of The Week feature here.
"Individual statements are well-crafted and concise- no one overstays his welcome or sounds as if he's stuck in the spotlight waiting for the next idea to come around- combining hard-hitting focus with a loose-limbed, propulsive drive." Review here.