Never More Here

“I Wish I Knew”


Tribute albums needn’t be a collection of the honoree’s greatest hits. For example, trombonist Michael Dease decided to honor the legacy of Charlie Parker by interpreting songs by Bird’s disciples and devotees on his latest album, Never More Here (Posi-Tone). Along with the quintet that accompanied him on his 2017 release All These Hands, Dease dips into the songbooks of Jimmy Heath, Jackie McLean, JJ Johnson and John Lewis, as well as contemporaries Eric Alexander and Renee Rosnes, the latter of whom plays piano on the record. The quintet also plays a joyful rendition of Dr. Billy Taylor’s sanctified civil rights anthem “I Wish I Knew (How It Felt To Be Free),” with Dease and saxophonist Steve Wilson offering heartfelt testimony from the pulpit. Rosnes’ churchy chords maintain the feel of a Sunday service, as does the expert rhythm team of bassist Gerald Cannon and drummer Lewis Nash. The upbeat treatment of the tune provides an optimistic ray of light during dark times, as does the album’s title; it derives from Al Collins’ quote, after Bird’s passing at age 34, that the saxophonist was “never more here.”

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