Billy Cobham, Marcus Miller, The Brecker Brothers, David Sanborn, Bob James, George Duke, Roberta Flack, Lenny White, Joe Zawinul, Bill Evans, Victor Bailey, Vital Information.
Guitarist, composer, arranger and producer, Dean Brown is best known for his soulful, creative and dynamic live performances and recordings. For close to 30 years Dean Brown has been an integral part of the global fusion and contemporary jazz scene, recording and/or touring worldwide with artists such as: Billy Cobham, Marcus Miller, The Brecker Brothers, David Sanborn, Bob James, George Duke, Roberta Flack, Lenny White, Joe Zawinul, Bill Evans, Victor Bailey, Vital Information, and his own projects as well.
Brown's guitar work can be heard on over 100 albums and four Grammy Award winners. Records such as The Brecker Brothers "Return of the Brecker Brothers" and "Out Of The Loop," Marcus Miller’s "The Sun Don't Lie," Billy Cobham’s "Warning" and Joe Zawinul’s "Faces and Places" are just a few out of the long list. His performances include Live DVDs with Marcus Miller, Billy Cobham, Gil Evans, David Sanborn and Friends, Louie Bellson, Bob James, and Steve Smith's Vital Information.
Dean has produced three solo CD's. The first, "Here" (2001), is his all-star debut CD featuring jazz greats Michael Brecker, Marcus Miller, David Sanborn, Billy Cobham, George Duke, Randy Brecker, Christian McBride, Don Alias, Bill Evans, Bernard Wright and many others. His second record "Groove Warrior" (2004), features another all-star lineup with Lalah Hathaway, Marcus Miller, Bernard Wright, JuJu House, Poogie Bell, Schuyler Deale, Booker King, and Patches Stewart, just to name a few. And his third CD "DBIII – Live at the Cotton Club Tokyo" (2009) features an all-star power trio with musical greats Dennis Chambers and Will Lee.
Dean has also released an instructional/live DVD "Modern Techniques for the Electric Guitarist"(2008) for publishing giant Hal Leonard.
The son of a military man from the Bronx and a jazz singer from North Carolina, Dean Brown grew up in a number of locales during his formative years. Born in France, his family moved to the States when he was two then returned to France when he turned 10. Two years later, his family returned to the States once again. It was the summer of love and something new and decidedly different was in the air that would greatly affect Dean’s path. As he explains, "Being a child of the 60's, I was naturally attracted to the so-called hippie scene and the music that surrounded it. I mean, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and ‘Are You Experienced?’ are the reasons that I play music today. At least those were the reasons I decided I was going to start playing guitar." Dean would later spend three years in Korea, where he began working professionally at the age of 15 as a singer/guitarist fronting a horn band, garnering a huge following in the process. "I was like a pop star with bodyguards, a fan club, and everything," Brown recalls with a laugh. "It was wild."
After attending George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Brown entered the Berklee College of Music and graduated as a composition major. His classmates there included fellow guitarists Mike Stern, Bill Frisell, Kevin Eubanks, and Jamie Glaser. One of Dean’s first gigs in Boston was in trumpeter Tiger Okoshi's band Baku. As he recalls, "I replaced Mike Stern in that band in 1979 when Mike left to play with Billy Cobham." Brown joined Cobham's Glass Menagerie band in 1981 and that year recorded “Observations +” with the great fusion drummer, marking his first time in the recording studio. In 1982, he played with Glass Menagerie at the Montreux International Jazz Festival. A document of that live gig later appeared the following year as “Smokin.” Brown also performed on Cobham’s 1985 debut for GRP Records, “Warning!” He was an original member of Vital Information, the ground breaking group led by the drummer icon, Steve Smith.
Through the 80s and into the 90s, Brown alternated constant touring and recording with sax star David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Bob James, Kirk Whalum, and the re-united Brecker Brothers. "At one point in the early 90s, it was an amazing juggling act between working with Mike and Randy, Dave and also Marcus' band," he recalls. "It was like non-stop airports. Of course, it was great to be so busy, but it also created this incredible log jam of events."
In recent years, Brown has released three solo CD's, toured and recorded with saxophonist Bill Evans, singer Roberta Flack, keyboardist George Duke, bassist Victor Bailey, and his old mentor Billy Cobham. He was a regular band member for 14 years with Marcus Miller's band and tours with his own groups. Says Dean, "I'm concentrating more on my own projects now, but I still love playing with all these great musicians as well."
"I've been searching for an amp for over 20 years,” says Dean. “Finally, my search has ended with the DV Mark 212 combo. The first time I plugged in, I knew it would give me what I needed and I hadn't even turned a knob yet! It's been my experience that our gear tends to choose us. Sometimes, when least expected, I find a guitar or play through an amp that is just ‘me.’ Try one of the DV Mark series of great guitar amps and see if one chooses you too."
photo: Sigi Baramsky