I am a saxophonist (tenor and soprano) and composer. These days I see myself more as a composer. I love to write music in different styles. I am largely self-taught on both piano and saxophone although I did take lessons from some of Canada’s finest saxophonists. An important influence on my music has been my time spent in countries like Ghana, Mali, Cuba and Madagascar playing with both professional and amateur musicians. Around 2000, I began taking piano lesson with the intent of learning how to identify the chords changes in songs that I badly wanted to share with other musicians. Quickly my time on the piano gravitated towards composing.
Strathcona Park was released in the fall of 2010 is an album made up in good part by songs from my early composing period. Strathcona Park on the Rideau River along the eastern edge of Sandy Hill in Ottawa and two minutes from his home has played an important role in the life of my family. At the same time Strathcona Park became emblematic of what I have tried to do with his music. I have explored different melodic and chord arrangements, rhythms and time signatures. But in the end, certain rules and foundations underpin my music. In the same way that I tinker with my music, people change how they enjoy the park while leaving its foundation intact. For the launch of the album I was joined by Sandy Hill artists who they themselves have been inspired by Strathcona Park and displayed their works of art at the album launch.
Today, with my wife the singer Maggy Razafimbahiny, I am the co-leader of Raivo, a group that has released two recordings, Hommage (2002) and Mahabibo (2008). I have also started a new project entitled "Dean Pallen Presents "Madagascar", that will explore new sounds with less emphasis on my jazz background. I am also the leader of Rimbombante that released its first CD in the spring of 2010 entitled:”Una Aventura Más” dedicated to the great Bolero singers of Latin America and has recorded a new album of songs written by myself entitled "21 Extra Days of Summer". Rimbombante mixes Latin rhythms with jazz and other forms of popular music. Today, I compose the music for Rimbombante and Raivo and the Dean Pallen Presents: Madagascar Project. The “Dean Pallen Quartet” is being reconstituted and he will be doing the official launch for Sunswept Sunday (2010) in the spring of 2012 an album I recorded with pianist J-P Allain that is a collection of rare Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn songs.
My composing influences include Ellington and Strayhorn, Abdullah Ibrahim, Thelonious Monk, R.R. Majunga, Tom Ze, Herbie Nicholas, Claude Debussy and Brian Wilson. As a saxophonist, Dean counts among his numerous influences the playing of many African saxophonists, Dexter Gordon, Steve Lacy, Stan Getz, David Murray, Charlie Rouse, Art Pepper and the saxophone players in the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
The band members for the Strathcona Park recording were:
Dean Pallen: Tenor and Soprano Saxophone
J.P. Allain: Piano
Evandro Gracelli: Guitar on Mountain Song and Believe in Yourself and Me Too (Baião Version)
Tiana Rabezandriny: Piano on Believe in Yourself and Me Too (Malagasy Version) and Dushanbe
Arien Villegas: Drums
Salomon Carillo: Shaker on Believe in Yourself and Me Too (Baião Version)
Marc Decho: Stand-up bass
Gerg Horvath: Stand-up bass on Mountain Song and Believe in Yourself and Me Too (Baião Version)