Michael Dease

"Born in Augusta, Georgia, Michael Dease is one of the top trombonists on the scene today. He has a gorgeous tone, and a flawless technique that never stands in the way of his music. He recently won the 64th Annual DownBeat Magazine Critic's Poll for Rising Star Jazz Trombonist. Michael's latest release, 'All These Hands' traces the story of the spread of jazz throughout the USA, from New Orleans, up through the Midwest and up the Eastern Seaboard, paralleling the African American Northern Migration."
-Renee Rosnes, Artistic Director

Michael will perform on Friday, February 16.


Michael Dease was born in the countryside of Augusta, GA in the “Deep South,” and 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 Bachelors and Masters degrees, and quickly established a reputation as a brilliant soloist, valued collaborator, and inspired bandleader. 

This year Dease explores the roots and branches of Jazz with All These Hands, his fourth album for Posi- Tone and tenth overall. Dease carefully composed twelve pieces representing the major destinations and "homes" of Jazz music in the early 20th century. In order to capture the city and country flavors of Jazz music's journey, Dease called upon superlative collaborators including pianist Renee Roses, multi-reedist Steve Wilson, drum set master Lewis Nash, and a trifecta of bass artists Rodney Whitaker, Gerald Cannon and Rufus Reid to comprise two contrasting chamber ensembles- the Quintet and the Trio. Special guests include ace guitarist Randy Napoleon and Trinidadian trumpeter Etienne Charles. 

Dease recently won the 64th Annual Downbeat Magazine Critic's Poll for Rising Star Jazz Trombonist, and is a sought-after and two-time Grammy award winning lead, section and bass trombonist with today’s leading jazz orchestras. His experiences include bands led by Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, Charles Tolliver, Rufus Reid, WDR Big Band, NDR Big Band, 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 like The Heath Brothers, Winard Harper, Renee Rosnes, Bill Charlap, Claudio Roditi, and Lewis Nash, where Dease has revitalized the trombone’s image. Not content to simply improvise, Dease arranges and composes for many different bands and constantly adjusts his tone and timbre to add just the right flavor to the music. 

Dease’s unique blend of curiosity, hard work, and optimism, has helped him achieve worldwide recognition, including awards from ASCAP, The International Trombone Association, Yamaha, Eastern Trombone Workshop, New York Youth Symphony, among others. Dease was recently profiled in Cicily Janus’ book, The New Face of Jazz: An Intimate Look at Today’s Living Legends (Random House).  His experience in the studio 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 University of North Texas, Scranton University, University of Iowa, Florida State College, Broward College, and many institutions abroad. He currently teaches jazz trombone and improvisation at the renowned Michigan State University jazz program, and has also served as faculty at Queens College - CUNY, The New School and Northeastern University. Consistently in-demand around the world as a summer workshop jazz educator, Michael Dease serves as Director of the Jazz Institute at Brevard, part of the storied Brevard Music Center in North Carolina.  Many of Dease’s current and former students are enjoying successful careers in New York City and around the world. 

Always an informed, but forward-thinking musician, Dease learned the craft from trombone legends Wycliffe Gordon, Joseph Alessi and master teacher Dr. John Drew. His associations have run the entire spectrum of musical experience: Alicia Keys, Paul Simon, Jon Batiste, Aretha Franklin, Jon Mayer, The Temptations, Paul Schaffer and the CBS Orchestra, Elton John, Neal Diamond, Illinois Jacquet, Slide Hampton & The World Of Trombones, Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, WDR Big Band, George Gruntz, Billy Harper, and numerous others. 

Michael enjoys spending every possible minute with his extraordinary wife and Professor of Percussion at MSU Gwendolyn Dease and their daughter Brooklyn.  He is also an aspiring painter, sports car enthusiast, amateur coffee snob, Star Wards scholar, 80's horror movie aficionado and enjoys scooting up and down the Michigan highways in his Porsche Boxster Cabriolet.