Real & Imagined Records • April 4, 2012 Release • R&I-002
Los Angeles-based composer and pianist Kait Dunton delivers another stunning and surprising release with Mountain Suite, her second album of original music. What started as a few measures of music composed in the Canadian Rockies became a full suite of music brought to life by master interpreters Peter Erskine on drums, Bob Mintzer on tenor sax, John Daversa on trumpet and Darek Oles on bass. The music on Mountain Suite is not what you would expect from a jazz record. Dunton intended it that way.“Kait Dunton must know what she's doing,” writes historian John Edwin Mason, “Because here she is -- amid of the clutter and noise of the internet age -- whispering.” As composer, arranger and producer of Mountain Suite, she brought her concept to the recording studio complete and ready to be framed by an all-star ensemble. Using jazz as a springboard into creative realms of her own imagining, Dunton both refers to and defies idiomatic expectations of the genre. It swings, but it also slips into more subtle, shadowy places. “Befitting the title of the album, the music is airier, more serene and more nuanced,” writes S.Victor Aaron of Something Else! “If that made you think that this shares some similarities to an ECM recording, you wouldn’t be terribly far off, but there’s a classic Blue Note presence lurking, too.”
Although the compositions on Mountain Suite can stand alone, Dunton explains that the music should be taken as a whole, and thought of as a single narrative. “Mountain Suite is a journey,” Kait describes. “Whether that journey is physical, spiritual, emotional, or whatever else, is up to the listener - but many journeys take the same shape, and the music follows such an arc: deliberation, forward motion, exuberance, caution, reflection, discovery... and return.” As such, the track titles suggest abstract imagery for each stage of the journey. The trio work on the album - with Dunton on piano, Erskine on drums and Oles on bass - is especially captivating. Listen to “Frolic” and “Towards Night” to hear the full reach of the music’s emotional spectrum. The sonic quality of the album is also worth noting. Engineer Rich Breen is a master of his craft and a true friend to the music, capturing an exceptionally pure, acoustic sound.
Dunton has already been recognized as an emerging talent. She was featured as one of “10 Future Female Jazz Stars” on Jazz.com and described by Don Heckman in the International Review of Music as “an extraordinary talent on the rise” with “impressive compositional skills”. Her first album, Real & Imagined, has also garnered high praise for Dunton’s writing and playing, as well as her concept for piano trio, and was named best jazz album of 2009 by Something Else!
Kait studied classical piano growing up, but later discovered jazz and improvisation as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia. Trumpeter John D’earth was Kait’s first true musical mentor, and encouraged her to write without the constrictions of formal guidelines. As a result, Kait’s music has always come unfiltered and unfettered from the heart. Graduating with a BA in Spanish from UVa, she took a quick left turn towards the University of North Texas, where she then completed a Masters of Music in Jazz Studies. A born-and-raised native of Pasadena, California, Kait has since returned to her home town and is now completing a doctoral degree at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where she studied under pianist Alan Pasqua and composer Vince Mendoza.
Kait will graduate next year and plans to focus full time on her career as a composer and pianist. As she continues carving a path for herself in the music world, she has ambitious ideas in mind for future recordings and performances. “I think that years down the line,” writes S. Victor Aaron, “Mountain Suite will be looked at in retrospect as another stop along the way in the very promising career of Kait Dunton, but it’s a transition point that is already further along than the destination for many good jazz musicians.”