Young piano whiz to jazz it up at Pierce Street concert

Jamael Dean, a 13-year-old jazz pianist sensation.
Jamael Dean, a 13-year-old jazz pianist sensation.

Aug. 15, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( Boys often spend their free time playing video games, but Jamael Dean had different types of favorite toys--the bass guitar, acoustic guitar, drums and clarinet, specifically, and these toys set the direction of his life.

Since the age of eight, Dean has pursued music like it was air, studying the violin first in his school band then graduating to a keyboard his parents purchased for him. They soon noticed that a keen talent fueled their son’s immense musical interest. He began playing songs he heard on the radio, his MP3 player and iPod and particularly liked jazz tunes. He began spending time with and learning from his grandfather, jazz drummer Donald Dean and other top jazz players in Los Angeles. He attended the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop in his hometown of Bakersfield, studied piano and began performing. This year, at age 13 he played with youth organization Jazz America, co-founded by the late Buddy Collette and previously gave a featured performance at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles. He will also travel this month and in September as a sponsored artist to workshops in Sacramento and upstate New York.

On Aug. 24, Dean will bring his talent to the Pierce Street Jazz series at La Sierra University’s Alumni Center. He will lead a band of seasoned music industry professionals in a lineup of tunes that include “Stella by Starlight,” “Round Midnight,” and “Seven Steps to Heaven.” The Jamael Dean Quartet will perform at 7 p.m. The Alumni Center is located at 11500 Pierce St., Riverside. Admission is free. Band members include Dean’s grandfather Donald Dean on drums, Doug Webb, saxophone and Henry “the Skipper” Franklin on bass. Information is at 951-785-2148.

The concert marks the return of Jamael Dean’s band members to La Sierra. They have all played in various Pierce Street Jazz quartets since the series’ inception in summer 2009.

Bassist Franklin, known in music circles as the Skipper, organizes the Pierce Street concerts for La Sierra. His extensive musical background includes performances on more than 150 albums and compact discs since 1970 including gold releases, many of which he produced. In March he released his 24th album, “Soul of the World,” recorded with his band. His band’s 2009 album, “Home Cookin’,” recorded on Franklin’s SP Records label, features the renowned Barbara Morrison on vocals. The project received airplay on KJAZZ 88.1 FM.

Franklin has played his upright bass with numerous jazz and pop greats including Al Jarreau, Stevie Wonder, Count Basie, Freddie Hubbard and Milt Jackson, and was part of the legendary Hugh Masekela’s band during the late 1960s. When not on tour in various parts of the United States and the world, Franklin performs at The Historic Mission Inn in Riverside, Calif.

Jazz drummer Dean’s career experiences involve playing with such greats as Kenny Dorham, Les McCann, and other top musicians. His studio work includes performance on McCann’s “Swiss Movement” album which included the hit song, “Compared to What?”

Saxophonist Webb’s wide-ranging musical skills encompass renaissance and baroque woodwinds, 14 sizes of clarinets, various flutes, and “ethnic woodwinds from every region of the world,” his biography states. His lengthy resume includes performances on more than 500 recordings for myriad artists including Stanley Clark, Quincy Jones, Mat Marucci, Rod Stewart, Carly Simon, Queen Latifah and Freddie Hubbard. For 15 years he played with the Doc Severinsen Tonight Show Big Band and has recorded music for numerous movies and television shows including solos on soundtracks for Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino. His latest album, “Renovations,” came out in January on Posi-Tone Records.

Next Pierce Street Jazz concerts will take place on Oct. 5 with the Azar Lawrence Quartet and on Nov. 2 with an Art Blakey tribute band sextet.


PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University
Riverside, California
951.785.2460 (voice)

  • Last update on  August 16, 2011