Dean Solden and the Jazz Explorers
Featuring Carl Cafagna
Having written more than 75 songs and compositions, this group blends elements of Bebop, Blues, and Modal Jazz Standards to bring sheer talent and variety to their audience.
Jazz pianist, composer, educator, singer-songwriter, playwright Dean Solden is a different kind of jazz musician. At his jazz shows you won’t hear the typical head-sax solo-piano solo-bass solo-drum solo-head on every tune. One tune may start with a drum solo. Another tune may be solo piano on a Beatles tune with sax. Or the bass may play the melody (though not too many bass solo’s – sorry fella’s). His original tunes are strongly Miles influenced, listenable but poignant, modal but sweet, funky but mellow. Influenced by the great jazz pianists such as Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Hampton Hawes, and Keith Jarret, Solden has his own style, and is not afraid to throw all genres of music into a tune, from the Beatles to Van Morrison to the Grateful Dead. To Dean, jazz is truly art.
“Jazz is definitely the base of my musical creativity, but I can’t help but be influenced by all musical styles, and all artforms. Sometimes I like to “clean the listener’s palate” with a beautiful, jazzy recognizable pop song, and sometimes I can get pretty outside for a tune. If you like Miles, Dexter Gordon, Stanley Turrentine, with a bit of Bill Evans, McCoy and Keith Jarrett thrown in, you’ll probably like our group.”
“Creative” is probably the best word to use for Solden, although “performer” may be a close second. “While I believe jazz is performance art, I also believe a jazz gig should also be a “show.” Unlike Miles, whose been a huge musical influence, I want to have the audience entertained.” Solden has a natural way with an audience, and educates, entertains, and opens up about personal things in his shows. Even at a jazz club, he adds elements from his one-man jazz/musical theatrical show, Four Special Women, into the set. The audiences seem to respond.
“Dean was incredible. He bared his soul to us through word and song... Great stage presence, performance, and singing… of course his amazing virtuosity on the piano...”
“I recently had the privilege of seeing the incredibly talented Dean Solden. Dean’s intimate warmth alongside his engaging charisma is a rare combination and most certainly not-to-be-missed. Thank you, Dean for an unforgettable evening!”
Solden has formed a new group with some of the great Detroit jazz artists, including drummer Bill Higgins, bassist Jeff Reynolds, and featuring tenor saxophonist Carl Cafagna. “The guys are fantastic. Bill and Jeff are a great rhythm section and Carl is amazing. He’s got the tone of Dexter Gordon and swings like Turrentine. We recently did a recording and we all just connected. I’m excited to be playing some great jazz clubs with them.”
Solden has been playing jazz for over thirty years and played with such jazz greats as drummers Harold Jones (Natalie Cole, Ray Charles) guitarist Jackie King (Willie Nelson) and bassist Tommy Beason (Vince Guaraldi). He has toured with singer Maria Muldaur, and been a band leader for years, having played at venues such as the legendary Great American Music Hall (San Francisco), Bakers Keyboard Lounge (Detroit) and locally at the Kerrytown Music Hall (Ann Arbor). He was the house musician for Senator’s Barbara Boxer in San Francisco, and recently has played gigs for Senator Debbie Stabenow, including her election victory party in 2018.
Club Event – Make a Reservation
With the goal of providing amazing hospitality with minimal rules, the Blue LLama Jazz Club doesn't have a mandatory cover charge when featuring local and regional artists. However, our mission is to bring the best talent to our community and you will see an optional cover line on the check. While it's not required, you're welcome to add the suggested amount per person to help us continue our mission of presenting amazing music seven days a week on the Blue LLama stage.