The Musician Spotlight Series shines a light on up-and-coming bands and solo acts creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their music, their collaborators, and why they do what they do.
“Producer and recording artist Dean Grant debuts with a strong, vintage orientated, pop album, produced for the international music scene. For this album, The French Recording Sessions, Dean Grant surrounded himself with leading people from within the French music industry, ensuring an authentic approach and convincing final sound. For over ten years Dean Grant produces in collaboration with French arranger Bernard Arcadio (conductor & pianist of Charles Aznavour, Gilbert Bécaud and Henri Salvador). The release of The French Recording Sessions marks the beginning of a new phase in which Dean Grant performs himself on tape, without seeing himself specifically as a singer, but as a producer having his own voice at the center of his productions”.
“All twelve titles of The French Recording Sessions (DeLuxe Version) will be treated as singles. From January 15, 2019 every six weeks a new single will be released, resulting in a series of successive releases till 2020″.
When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
Becoming a musician has not been a rational choice: it just happened. Since the age of seven I was attracted to piano. Especially in the years after my tenth year of life, I was sucked to the clavier with strong force and I put aside most of everything else: I played and played the clavier all over again, everyday.
Although I have known periods of 18 hours of piano playing per day (when I had Michel Cassez (Claude François) as a mentor while following his Master Classes near Avignon, France), I see myself more as a composer-producer -in which my voice is central in the productions-than as a pianist or a singer. Writing music, playing music, producing music and living music is not a choice, it takes place as an action and is not an activity.
Are you trained? How did you develop your skills?
I am definitely a trained musician. I have always followed lessons from an early age. First in the private sphere, later via the conservatory and the master classes with Michel Cassez. In my work I am privileged to work with arranger and pianist Bernard Arcadio (Charles Aznavour, Gilbert Bécaud, Henri Salvador). His knowledge is extensive, I learn from that.
I gain new knowledge almost daily; at home in The Writing Room (which is my private writing studio) or during joint productions that take place at The Wisseloord Studios, my home-base for recording albums.
A learning process, or an increase in dexterity of an instrument or studio equipment, never stops. A nice anecdote that illustrates this is the following. A friendly pianist (age 89) of a colleague called one day and said he thought he was making progress in his playing these last days. At first hearing, it is almost funny and it makes many smile, including myself, but if you think about it a little longer, it is a wonderful insight into the fact that learning and booking progress has no ending.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
These are easy to sum up: Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, a young Louis Armstrong with Oscar Peterson, Peggy Lee and Count Basie, together with many other (often American artists from around the 50’s), form the basis for my work as a musician. Each artist has his or her own reason for this. The perfection of a young Frank Sinatra, flawlessly singing with so-called one-takers, surrounded by the unprecedented recordings with Tommie Dorsey. Class surrounded by airiness. The level of that quality of that quality is nowhere to find these recent days; I could not mention one recording from recent time that matches this kind of quality.
The feather-lighted way of playing the piano by Nat King Cole with his velvet voice. The voice of Peggy Lee that is straightforward. The swing of Count Basie. All have influenced my existence as a musician, composer and music analyst.
From my twentieth year on, I came to live in France and I was confronted with completely diﬀerent artists from the same spectrum. Starting with Henri Salvador and his album from 1959 under the direction of Quincy Jones is, in my opinion, unmatched in class and savoir faire. The arrangements are intelligent and lyrical and the full, warm timbre of Henri’s voice is iconic to this day. Later on came to me: Gilbert Bécaud, Sacha Distel and also the young Juliette Gréco.
American jazz was, especially after the second world war, strongly represented in Paris. American influences can be clearly heard in the French swing recordings from that time.
How would you describe your sound?
You ask me to describe my own sound. It is logically not easy for me to actually do this objectively. After all, it’s about me. If I make an attempt anyway, I believe that my sound is a result of my American jazz education and my love of French music culture. Both can be heard on my current album The French Recording Sessions; French intimacy on a layer of American tinted brass arrangements by Jasper Staps.
What’s your favorite tune in your repertoire and why?
Although all titles on The French Recording Sessions have been carefully selected for the right balance, of course there are always titles that stand out for various reasons.
For me that is one of the future singles: “Un homme amoureux”. The text is telling, the orchestration today’s and the used equipment is from the 1950s, as well as the eﬀects from post production. Especially for the latter, the French mixer Patrice Küng played an important role. I believe that this song does what it needs to do.
What can audiences expect from one of your live shows?
I have not given performances and live shows for a long time, because my work as a composer-producer. However, with the album The French Recording Sessions I now perform as a recording artist myself. Although at an early stage, there is currently the idea to have the debut concerts of Dean Grant – The French Recording Sessions take place in the Provence, in the south of France during the summer. Think of the beautiful Roman open-air theaters of Vaison-la-Romaine or Orange.
As with so many examples in life, once you talk about it, it exists. So one could say we’re going in that direction. I find it a serene idea to debut as a performing artist at a stone’s throw from the French school desk where I learned so profoundly about French jazz and its rich history.
Where can we find your music?
2019 is a full planned year for my music, marked by extensive releases. All 12 titles of my debut album The French Recording Sessions (version DeLuxe) are now being published 6 weekly. The focus of distribution is on digital publishing. Music can be found on all streaming services, as well as in China.
Although we focus on digital distribution for the international release, physical albums (regular and version DeLuxe) posses a great value for my music. I believe that all music should be packed by supporting artwork. Unfortunately, there is less room for this in the digital domain, compared to what used to be.
For this reason, all my albums are also pressed to CD, so that the opportunity for accompanying artwork is guaranteed. Since my music can be linked to a vintage character, graphics play an important role and become visible with all the diﬀerent single covers. CDs can be purchased directly via the label Records Gramophonique on Dean-Grant.com.