Internationally acclaimed bassist, vocalist and composer Jeff Denson—a musician of high (and steadily
increasing) renown in the jazz world—has embarked upon what will be among the most bountiful and
consequential years of his career. 2019 will see the release of two new and very different recording projects
from the prolific musician, along with other releases on his Ridgeway Records label. In addition, Denson will
maintain his busy schedule of tours and live performances as well as ongoing work as full professor at the
California Jazz Conservatory (CJC)—to which, in the fall, he will also add the role of Dean of Instruction.
The first new album Jeff Denson Live, his seventh recording as a leader and first live album, is slated for a
May 17 digital-only release via Ridgeway Records. Live was recorded at the CJC with a superlative band,
including saxophonist Lyle Link, pianist Dahveed Behroozi and drummer Dillon Vado; it continues his
development toward giving his formidable vocal prowess (as documented on 2018’s Outside My Window)
equal prominence with his remarkable bass playing.
“After Outside My Window came out, I took my quartet all over the country, and I was loving the pursuit of
singing along with playing,” Denson says. “The chemistry in the band kept growing in a really great way, and
that’s when I decided, ‘Okay, I want to do a live album.’ I love working in the studio, but live, we extend
things and take a lot of risks—and I don’t worry about track lengths. We let it go wherever it’s gonna go.”
Live features five of Denson’s original compositions, along with scintillating covers of songs by Jeff Buckley,
Abbey Lincoln, Peter Gabriel and the Beatles.
Denson’s second release in 2019 will be a studio collaboration with superb French guitarist Romain Pilon, a
friend of Denson’s from their days together at Berklee College of Music, now based in Paris; and iconic, jazz
drummer Brian Blade, one of Denson’s longtime heroes. Between Two Worlds is due for release on
October 25, 2019, also on the Ridgeway label. The group plans a US tour the last week of August, with more
dates in February 2020.
An admirer of Blade’s work for two decades, Denson finally got to meet and play with the drummer in 2017,
when they both joined New York guitarist Joel Harrison on a tour with his band Spirit House.
Between Two Worlds is a collection of all original material, with Denson and Pilon each contributing half the
Denson’s own projects are not the only items on Ridgeway Records’ release schedule. The bassist’s label
will be issuing a handful of other recordings this year. Among these is the debut recording by multiinstrumentalist
Dillon Vado (who plays the drums on Jeff Denson Live), which will be released in the
summer, and the third album by the expansive electro-acoustic ensemble Negative Press Project co-led by
bassist Andrew Lion and pianist/keyboardist Ruthie Dineen, with other projects to follow.
In addition, Denson maintains an ever-rigorous performing schedule, often with some 60 to 70 concerts per
year. Among the highlights are upcoming performances with his own bands including the Jeff Denson Live
quartet and the San Francisco String Trio (with guitarist Mimi Fox and violinist Mads Tolling) whose tribute
to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the 2017 album May I Introduce to You, earned
critical praise. Denson will also pay tribute to Bill Evans’ landmark album Sunday at the Village Vanguard
with pianist Joe Gilman at SFJAZZ; he’s also got gigs as part of New York trombonist John Fedchock’s
quartet; another quartet with pianist Susan Muscarella and vocalist Kenny Washington; with a trio led by
pianist Edward Simon; as well as the Anton Schwartz Quartet.
Denson’s work as an educator at the California Jazz Conservatory will also expand in the fall 2019 semester
when he officially becomes Dean of Instruction. But that role won’t sideline his commitment to teaching and
community outreach. He’ll still teach students at CJC and will be part of a number of summer educational
initiatives including a week-long Jazz Piano Intensive headed by Susan Muscarella, a two-day Vibraphone
and Bass Boot Camp, co-led by Denson and Philadelphia-based vibraphonist Tony Miceli, and a Guitar-
Intensive Workshop headed by Mimi Fox, as well as serving on the faculty of the Golden Gate Bass Camp.
It’s all part of Denson’s quest to push his creative ability to its limits. “I’ve got so many ideas I want to try, and
I don’t want to put myself in any kind of box,” he says. “Everything I do has a thread that runs through it—
and that thread is me. It’s who I am.”
About Jeff Denson
Born December 20, 1976 in Arlington, Virginia, Jeff Denson grew up in the Washington, DC area. He began
playing alto saxophone in the third grade, switching in high school to bass and vocals. He studied at Virginia
Commonwealth University and Northern Virginia Community College, all the while freelancing heavily on the
DC jazz scene, before transferring to Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music to complete his degree.
At Berklee, Denson co-founded the trio Minsarah, touring and recording with the band for fifteen years and
becoming the accompanist for the legendary saxophonist Lee Konitz for over twelve years. In the meantime,
Denson completed a master’s degree at Florida State University and a DMA at the University of California at
San Diego, and recorded his first solo project in 2012’s Secret World. Denson moved to the San Francisco
Bay Area in 2011 to become a professor at the California Jazz Conservatory. Since then, he has become a
major player on the international scene and earned wide critical acclaim for his musicianship. DownBeat
Magazine has cited Denson’s “considerable gifts as an improviser, interpreter and sonic trailblazer…”
earning him a spot on the DownBeat International Critics Poll. Germany’s Jazz Podium Magazine noted that
“Denson is breaking new ground…(he is) one of the leading bassists of contemporary jazz.” Denson has
released twelve albums as a leader or co-leader and performs in some 60 concerts annually. He also
spearheads Ridgeway Arts, a nonprofit designed to enhance and fortify the Bay Area scene with educational
initiatives, concert presentations and recordings released on Denson’s Ridgeway Records label.