The jazz album The Mendoza Line features thirteen original tracks composed by Raleigh Dailey. The Mendoza Line, for those who are not familiar with the term, refers to a threshold of mediocrity, named after the decidedly average baseball hitter Mario Mendoza. Whether the album was titled for humor or out of modesty, I agree with Miles Osland who writes, “This recording is documentation of and testament to Raleigh’s profound musicianship, creativity and diverse prolific writing - eons above the Mendoza Line!”
The Osland / Dailey Jazztet, a post-bop group, is made up of Miles Osland on the soprano and alto saxophones as well as the flutes, Raleigh Dailey himself on the piano and keyboard, Danny Cecil on acoustic and electric bass and either John Willmarth or Paul Deatherage on the drums, depending on the track. Miles Osland and Raleigh Dailey are both University of Kentucky jazz professors - high quality musicians. Osland’s upper octave saxophone playing is quite accomplished, and his style definitely reflects his influences in colorful big-band music.
It's difficult to categorize Dailey’s thirteen pieces as being in any one particular style, but they would be accessible to most modern mainstream jazz listeners and are executed par excellence. A few of the tracks sound strikingly similar to the music of Weather Report, specifically during Weather Report’s jazz funk- and groove-oriented phase in the mid-70s. However, the Jazztet plays with a much more modern sound and without the jazz fusion influence of electronics.
All in all, I found the tunes to be quite catchy; I tended to walk away humming or whistling a track whenever the disc concluded. The funky swing music style urges spirited playing from all the musicians and I’m sure you will have a blast listening to them jam.
The Jazztet is one of the finest post bop groups in modern jazz today comprised of Miles Osland (flute, saxophone), Raleigh Dailey (piano, keyboard), Danny Cecil (bass) and John Willmarth and Paul Deatherage (drums). They have their own musical personality and sound unlike any other jazz group. They exclusively perform the compositions and arrangements of Dailey throughout The Mendoza Line.
Raleigh Dailey is an internationally recognized jazz pianist, composer, scholar, and educator. Currently Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Kentucky, he studied at Kent State University (B.M., 1991), the University of North Texas (M.M., 1996), and the University of Kentucky (Ph.D., 2007).
Miles Osland has distinguished himself as an educator, recording and performing artist, author, arranger and composer. Currently the Director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Saxophone at the University of Kentucky, he has appeared throughout North, South America, Europe and Asia as a guest conductor, performer and clinician for Selmer Saxophones and Bay Woodwind mouthpieces.
John Willmarth is an active performer, composer, author, and educator in the Charleston, South Carolina area. A versatile percussionist, Willmarth is experienced in many areas of percussion including jazz, concert, marching, and world percussion. As an assistant band director in the Dorchester 2 School District, John coordinates the percussion and steel band programs at Summerville High School.
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The Osland / Dailey Jazztet perform the opening track "The Mendoza Line" live at the Montreux Jazz Festival.