A pianist who was among the more adventurous stylists in the mid-'50s. He recorded for the Charles Mingus/Max Roach owned label Debut Records in 1955, and had one album released, New Piano Expressions. Mingus and Roach played in his trio. Dennis also played in Mingus' Jazz Workshop.
© Ron Wynn /TiVo
© Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | Fantasy Records
Obsessive jazz collectors -- the kind of people who go wild when they hear the word "rare" -- love obscurity. They love to be able to tell their friends about a talented but little-known improviser who few people have heard of. Obsessive jazz collectors are the people Fantasy caters to with the Limited Edition line of its Original Jazz Classics (OJC) series. While the regular OJCs can appeal to both casual and hardcore jazz fans, the Limited Edition OJCs are usually aimed at serious collectors. One obscure artist who was perfect for a Limited Edition OJC was John Dennis, a '50s pianist whose influences ranged from Bud Powell to Erroll Garner. Unfortunately, Dennis wasn't recorded extensively, although he was featured on Thad Jones' 1955 Debut date The Fabulous Thad Jones and provided his own New Piano Expressions for Debut that same year. The material on this album falls into two categories: unaccompanied solo piano performances and trio numbers with Charles Mingus (acoustic bass) and Max Roach (drums). Dennis, whose clean, sophisticated approach often underscores his appreciation of classical music, is as appealing on original compositions as he is on performances of well-known standards such as "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Cherokee." In the '50s, New Piano Expressions first came out as an eight-song LP. Then, in 1994, the album became a 12-song, 56-minute CD when Fantasy reissued it and added four bonus tracks, including an alternate take of "Cherokee" and two takes of "All the Things You Are." Before New Piano Expressions came out on CD, those bonus tracks had only been available on Fantasy's Mingus boxed set, The Complete Debut Recordings. New Piano Expressions is an appealing effort from a pianist who deserved a lot more attention than he received. © Alex Henderson /TiVo