Dean is a Vancouver-based pianist, composer, and educator originally from Sylvan Lake, Alberta. His Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Composition was completed after a unique educational trajectory that included Red Deer College, Berklee College of Music, and Capilano University. Currently, Dean enjoys a busy career gigging within the local jazz and improvised music scenes as a sideman with a number of established groups including jazz bands, wedding events, and choral groups. In recent years his performing included international tours to the United States, UK, and India. Besides playing, Dean is an accomplished composer and arranger. His arrangements for horn groups and string ensembles can be heard on a number of his peers’ albums and performances. His small ensemble and 14-piece jazz orchestra under the shared name of STRANGER FRIENDS are his creative outlets that explore his personal compositional and improvisational stylings.
I grew up in the small summer town of Sylvan Lake, Alberta. My memories of climbing trees, swimming in the lake, water slides, starting campfires, hiking in the rocky mountains, and mini golf as I grew up in this corner of paradise still feel like the basis of my character.
I would walk 2 blocks to my piano teacher’s house during recess once a week when I started lessons in grade 2 and 3 and practiced at home on the table's edge before we got a piano. My musical influence at that time was my dad’s mix CD of ACDC, Supertramp, and other assorted collections of 60’s - 70’s hits. That, and my mom’s step aerobics jams.
One day I stumbled upon an Oscar Peterson compilation album and thought I had discovered some secret and underground sound. Being a 90’s kid I didn’t really understand the internet at that point and I was oblivious to the magnitude of jazz out there in the world. I thought I had it all with that compilation CD. I was wrong.
With the persistent encouragement of my early mentors and music teachers I made my mind up early on that I would play piano for good and music would be my life and that jazz would be my muse.
The music I write always feels like it is tied to my home town of Sylvan Lake and the friends I had, and still have, who grew up with me. The American author John Steinbeck spent his career pulling stories out of his home in the Salinas Valley, California and I feel like I could do the same with Sylvan Lake.
STRANGER FRIENDS is a celebration of friendships that have given me so much music and of music that has given me so many friendships.