Saturday, December 28, 2013

Faces of the Artists Quarter #26



Dean Granros at the AQ (2013)


© Andrea Canter

I first saw/heard Dean Granros with How Birds Work, a terrific quartet that used to play weekly at the AQ in its early years in the Hamm Building. By then he was one of the Twin Cities' grand veterans of jazz, serving an apprenticeship back in the 60s at such old local jazz and blues haunts as the Blue Note, Extraordinaire and Downtowner. I didn't even live here then. In the 70s Dean was leader or co-leader of experimental jazz groups --The Whole Earth Rainbow Band and Lapis. For nearly a decade from the mid-80s, he played with Eric Kamau Gravatt in Kamanari, then joined Scott Fultz and Dave King as FKG. In the new millennium, Dean joined George Cartwright's Curlew, and then of course How Birds Work with Peter Schimke, Billy Peterson and Kenny Horst. HBW still plays now and then (with Chris Bates usually on bass) at the AQ, but we miss their frequent explorations. Occasionally FKG comes together, and Dean has performed more recently with Starry Eyed Lovelies (with King, Mike Lewis and Anthony Cox) and with his own AntiGravity improvisation ensemble.

Dean Granros and Chris Bates (2013)
In the last month, we've gotten a booster shot of Dean Granros, as he came into the AQ with his own trio (Chris Bates and Kenny Horst); just last night (December 27), Dean sat in with fellow musicians as part of the AQ Final Weekend Jam, particularly grooving back and forth with Chris Bates on a couple tunes. His is an art that is far too rare and too little appreciated. Yet we do have an audience for experimental improvisation in the Twin Cities. Hopefully there will soon be another venue to give it a good hearing. 

I like to quote Don Berryman's summary of Dean: Dean Granros is a musical Jekyll and Hyde, mild mannered when he takes the stage and settles into the groove but eventually he will play like a madman, taking the music where no sane person would and then makes it beautiful when he gets there.”

Sanity is over-rated.