Currently a Jazz Performance student at the prestigious New School in NYC, Dean, 21, has been composing music since elementary school age after being inspired by his grandfather, soul jazz drummer Donald Dean. When bassist Louis Spears gave him a violin, Dean spent a summer with his grandfather, playing with him and saxophonist Charlie Owens, and creating melodies on the fly. He received a keyboard for Christmas aged eight, and began playing by ear, learning to read music later on.
“I loved seeing him interact with his friends on the bandstand at such a high level and then come off the bandstand with jokes, life lessons, and peace of mind,” Dean says of his grandfather.
After he moved to Los Angeles from Bakersfield at 14, Dean performed regularly with his peers and his grandfather, and studied with Doug Davis, Bill Cunliffe, Eric Reed, and other elders in the Los Angeles jazz community. Around this time he also started producing beats on Ableton, drawing on both his jazz background and his love for hip-hop.
Black Space Tapes is Dean’s first full solo outing. It aims to show the evolution of how music has played a role in his life, from jazz to rap and beyond that. Dean adds: “It’s a river of shifting patterns, and temperatures that show we as humans are instruments striving towards harmony in nature.”
Speaking about the album title, Dean explains: “‘Black’ is used to give reverence to the spirit of nothing that preceded all in the universe which, throughout the album, is referred to as ‘Akamara.’ ‘Space’ is used to allude to the ever-expansiveness of our beings, matter, and time itself. ‘Tapes’ shows the marriage of those two ideas (i.e the stickiness of tape) and how the album is a vessel of sound that grows with you (i.e. cassette tapes).”01. Akamara
04. Akamara (Remix)