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Scene From A Dream (1983)

by Dale Fielder / Geri Allen

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    The long-overdue release of Scene From A Dream is a historic event. It was not only the recording debut as a leader of saxophonist Dale Fielder but it contains valuable contributions by the late great pianist Geri Allen from 1983.

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Fugue 1978 09:00
The Rain 05:03
In My Youth 07:59
Thunderbirds 05:48


The long-overdue release of Scene From A Dream is a historic event. It was not only the recording debut as a leader of saxophonist Dale Fielder but it contains valuable contributions by the late great pianist Geri Allen from 1983.

At the time, Dale Fielder was 25, living in New York with Geri Allen, and in the early stages of his career. Born and raised in Midland, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, he began playing music from an early age, studying clarinet, tenor, alto and baritone saxophone, oboe, bassoon, and tuba. “My brother, who was 19 years older than me, indoctrinated me into jazz around 1962,” remembers Fielder. He gained important experience writing and playing with the Fielder Brothers and in high school performing with the r&b group The Ohio Supremes. After attending the University of Pittsburgh, he moved to New York in 1980, took Steve Coleman’s place with the Mighty Sparrows (a popular dance band), and met Geri Allen.

“It was an exciting period for me. Being with Geri, I had the opportunity to see the high level of dedication that she had on a daily basis and was inspired to find my own voice as a composer. At the time I was quite shy but Geri really believed in me. When I got some money to produce a record, Geri pushed me out there and urged me to make this session. It wouldn’t exist if it were not for her.”

Dale Fielder had only recorded once before, two years earlier as a sideman on trombonist Artie Simmons’ album Ababio, and it would not be until 1993, a decade later, that he would lead his second album. While he is well featured on alto during the six songs that comprise the Scene from a Dream project, he saw the project as an opportunity to present himself as a jazz composer. “I’m really out of the bebop tradition and Charlie Parker is in everything that I do musically. But I don’t live in the 1940s and ‘50s and I wanted to write music that was relevant to the period. I used a pulse rhythm as opposed to the swing walking basslines. But at the same time, I wanted to be able to solo with the same feeling over the chord changes that I could on the standards.”

At the time (Feb. 23, 1983), Geri Allen was also near the beginning of her career. She had made her recording debut three months earlier (other than some sets with her college bands) on altoist Oliver Lake’s Plug. However, she was already a long way towards developing her own approach to the piano. Fielder had met Michael Logan when they performed with Artie Simmons’ band. “We became friends, did gigs together, and I always called him to play bass. Drummer Greg Bufford, who was Philly Joe Jones’ protégé, was my best friend in New York. Like me, he always hustled and was ready to play any type of gig.” Percussionist Rob White is technically Dale’s nephew although he thinks of him as his brother. “His Mom is my sister and, since she is 22 years older, Rob is only six months younger than me. He is very successful as a conga and bongo player in Baltimore. On this project, he always fit the mood of the moment and helped to make the music unique.”

Scene From A Dream begins with Fielder’s “Night In Turquoise/Dance Over The Edge, a melodic but rhythmically tricky piece that is partly in 11/4 time with a 7/4 interlude with its main section in 4/4. Written to memorialize a fun night that he had spent in a dance club with Geri Allen, this is a mini-suite with many moving parts that will keep one guessing.

“Fugue 1978” doesn’t refer to classical music but to the state of consciousness between being awake and asleep. The atmosphere is set by Logan’s bowed bass before it becomes an energetic romp in 5/4 time that inspires inventive solos by Fielder and Allen.

Michael Logan brought in “Scene From A Dream” to the session, an original that Bobby Hutcherson was playing at the time. The composer’s unaccompanied bass improvisation (a little reminiscent of Jimmy Garrison) introduces the passionate jazz waltz, launching heated solos including some fiery “sheets of sound” from the leader.

“Les Mots Flottants (The Floating Words)” is named after the title of French writer Anais Nin’s diary which Dale was reading at the time. “Each morning she would clear her mind by taking a walk along the Seine River. I tried to capture the mood of her walks in this piece.” The excitement of starting a new day with endless possibilities can be heard in Fielder’s exuberant solo.

During the era, Dale Fielder and Geri Allen enjoyed playing duets. “The Rain,” a melancholy ballad, is a bit unusual because Allen spontaneously decided to sing wordlessly in the ensembles, one of the very few times in her career that she took a vocal. The date ends with Gregory Bufford’s “In My Youth,” an energetic and exciting samba which features a prominent role for White on congas.

Despite the high quality of the music, these six selections went unreleased until now. The reason is simple; the project ran out of money. “During the past 35 years, it was always in the back of my mind but I was more focused on my current projects.”

Since Scene From A Dream is the length of an LP, Dale Fielder decided to add two complimentary songs to the CD. After permanently moving to Los Angeles in 1988, he worked with drummer Chuck McPherson’s Modern Jazz Disciples every Friday and Saturday night at the Embassy Suites in San Diego during 1989-91. “Leopard In The Night” is the best song of the six that the quartet (which also includes pianist Dave Robbins and bassist David Marr) recorded as a demo on Apr. 27, 1991. A relatively straight-ahead piece, it features Fielder playing effortlessly over the complex chord changes. “Thunderbirds,” which was part of the 2001 album The Hipster, gives listeners an opportunity to hear the mature Fielder performing in a quintet with pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Trevor Ware, drummer Thomas White, and percussionist Rob White.

In more recent times, Dale Fielder has turned his focus to the baritone sax which he originally played in high school. “In 2002 I started playing the baritone again and, the more I got into the horn, the more I discovered that I could develop my own voice on the instrument.” Fielder is frequently heard in the Los Angeles area leading his quartet with pianist Jane Getz, bassist Bill Markus and drummer Thomas Wright, a group that has now been together for 21 years.

Looking back to Scene From A Dream, Dale Fielder says, “Geri passing away this past June shook us up and we thought that it was very important to finally get the recording out to add to her legacy. It is a tribute to Geri and the music that we played together long ago.”

-Scott Yanow, Jazz journalist/historian, and author of 11 books including
The Jazz Singers, Bebop, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76


released January 8, 2018

The Dale Fielder/Geri Allen Session NYC 1983
Dale Fielder – alto sax / Geri Allen – piano & vocals* / Michael Logan – bass / Gregory Bufford – drums / Rob White – congas & percussion

1. Night In Turquoise/Dance Over The Edge (Dale Fielder)
2. Fugue 1978 (Dale Fielder)
3. Scene From A Dream (Michael Logan)
4. Les Mots Flottant [The Floating Words] (Dale Fielder)
5. The Rain (Geri Allen) *
6. In My Youth (Gregory Bufford)
7. Leopard In The Night (Dale Fielder) **
8. Thunderbirds (Dale Fielder) ***

Recorded February 23, 1983, by Vince Traina @ Sound Heights Studios, Brooklyn, NY

** Dale Fielder - alto sax / Dave Robbins - piano / David Marr - bass / Chuck McPherson - drums

*** Dale Fielder - alto sax / Danny Grissett - piano / Trevor Ware - bass / Thomas White - drums / Rob White - percussion

**Recorded April 27, 1991, by Jim Mooney @ Sage & Sound Studios, Hollywood, CA

***Recorded August 12, 2001, by David Cousins @ Spectrum Studios, Van Nuys, CA

Produced by Dale Fielder and Paul Cohen
Remastering Engineer – Bob Wayne Sunburst/Archiving and Restoration, Culver City, CA
& Len Horowitz/Historical Recording Studio, Culver City, CA (The Rain)

Graphic Design by Craig Johnson
Photography by Glen Saffo
Liner Notes by Scott Yanow

Special Thanks: Patricia Jordan Fielder, Kafi Patrice Williams & Dee Watkins


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The Dale Fielder / Geri Allen Session NYC 1983 Los Angeles, California

The long-overdue release of Scene From A Dream is a historic event. It was not only the recording debut as a leader of saxophonist Dale Fielder but it contains valuable contributions by the late great pianist Geri Allen from 1983.

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