Nothing compares to working with your idol on a project of your passion, but Oklahoma State University junior Kyle Hunt did just that. Hunt and his classmates from the OSU Jazz Orchestra created an album with Grammy Award-winning trombonist Michael Dease through the help of their professor and OSU director of jazz studies Tommy Poole.
“Michael Dease is one of my idols, so to get to work with him was super cool,” Hunt said. “He did a lot of one-on-one work with us, and it was really a dream come true.”
The album, Solid Gold, released on December 6, 2017, has received a four-star review from AllAboutJazz.com, the most-prolific jazz album reviewer. The album has also received a stirring video review from Outside in Music.
“The OSU ensemble is exemplary,” AllAboutJazz.com writer Jack Bowers wrote. “Add multi-talented Michael Dease to the mix, stir emphatically and the upshot is a tasty banquet that’s sure to quicken the appetite of almost any champion of straight-ahead big-band jazz.”
The website groups the album with other top ranked professional big bands and universities’ albums such as those from jazz ensembles at the University of North Texas and the University of Northern Colorado, two of the more revered university jazz programs in the country.
Previously at Northeastern State University, Poole had already produced two albums during his time there. After discovering Dease’s music on the radio, Poole invited him to work on a new album this time at OSU. Once Dease agreed, Poole got to work on arranging the music.
“I had to figure out which of Mike’s many compositions would translate best to a large band,” Poole said. “I also had to figure out how the flow of the CD would work including how to feature as many of our student jazz soloists as possible. I emailed Mike my proposed track order. He was very agreeable.”
The students and Dease spent two and a half days recording the CD. Once tracked, Poole spent the summer mixing the audio while collaborating with OSU graphic design professor Pouya Jahanshahi on the visual layout.
“In jazz performance, I’m not going to only simply state the standard song,” Poole said. “I’ll play it through once and then I’ll change it completely. Jazz is a lot about improvisation. So when you’re arranging jazz, it’s the same thing. You’re taking the guts of the tune and composing new sections while orchestrating it for the larger ensemble.”
The album has been a huge success and gives the jazz studies program momentum in a time of great growth. In addition to a new jazz minor, there are many fresh jazz courses available to students regardless of major. There are also new jazz/funk professors on bass, drums and guitar.
“I want the entire OSU campus to know that our new rhythm-section faculty at OSU are among the most talented and sought-after jazz and funk musicians in the region,” Poole said. “Regardless of major, OSU students are absolutely encouraged to enroll.”
Poole is also looking forward to the new facilities in the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music and The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts.
“The opportunities for OSU jazz students are endless,” Poole said. “This new building will be a game changer for OSU Music, the OSU campus and the entire region.”
The Solid Gold album release party is on February 20, 2018, with OSU President Burns Hargis featured on the piano with the OSU Jazz Orchestra. OSU voice majors Shelby Stroud, Emily Sabetti and Dustin Boatright will also be featured at the concert. The release concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Seretean Center Concert Hall with a party immediately following. Ranchers Club and Kappa Kappa Psi will provide complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Physical CDs and download cards will be sold at a discount at this event. Tickets are available for purchase here.
Solid Gold is available at CDbaby (physical CD or download), iTunes (download only) and Amazon (download only). OSU director of jazz studies Tommy Poole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.