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Dennis Rea (photo: Anne Joiner)
|Origin||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Occupations||Musician, writer, editor, event/concert organizer|
|Labels||Moontower Records, Sky Records, China Record Company, Soundtrack Boulevard Music, First World Music, Infrasound, HipSync, Prudence, Periplum, Extreme, Linden, Palace of Lights, Noise Asia, Materiali Sonori|
Iron Kim Style
Ting Bu Dong
|Website||Dennis Rea website
MySpace: Dennis Rea
Dennis Rea (born 7 July 1957) is an American guitarist and music event organizer currently living in Seattle. Rea first came to prominence as a member of the electronic music group Earthstar in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He is probably best known in the West as a musician for his work with Jeff Greinke in Land. Rea's first solo album, Shadow In Dreams (1990), is notable as one of the first releases in mainland China by a western musician on the state record label. He currently leads the quintet Moraine.
Two of Rea's most important influences were the György Ligeti compositions on the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack and the King Crimson album In the Court of the Crimson King. In a 2001 interview in Exposé magazine Rea comments on the impact on his music: "The former opened my ears to expanded conceptions of form and tonality and to the world of 'extended' instrumental technique, and Ligeti remains my favorite composer to this day. The latter showed me that rock music could be so much more than the usual foursquare pounding with juvenile lyrics."
Other music which influenced Rea's development included progressive rock and jazz bands Gentle Giant, Matching Mole, Van der Graaf Generator, Henry Cow, and Centipede. He credits King Crimson and Soft Machine with his abiding interest in modern jazz and credits his brother with introducing him to the music of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Albert Ayler, and Ornette Coleman.
Earthstar was the brainchild of keyboardist/synthesist Craig Wuest. A native of Utica, New York, Wuest was heavily influenced by the German electronic music scene of the 1970s, including Klaus Schulze, Popol Vuh, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, and Harmonia. Earthstar was born out of the partnership of Wuest and the members of Zuir, plus other Utica-area musicians. In 1977 Earthstar was signed by Nashville-based Moontower Records, who released the group's first album, Salterbarty Tales, the following year. Earthstar also began recording its second album, French Skyline, in 1978. Rea recalls concerts during the period when Earthstar was in Utica: "The group performed live only a handful of times, mostly at inappropriate venues like roadhouse bars and college beer halls, with predictable results."
Craig Wuest was an admirer of electronic music pioneer Klaus Schulze, with whom he struck up a correspondence. Schulze encouraged Wuest and Earthstar to come to Germany. Wuest sold his grand piano, which had played a prominent part on Salterbarty Tales, to finance the move. Earthstar was signed by Hamburg-based Sky Records, who released the group's next three albums beginning with French Skyline in 1979. Earthstar is notable as the only American band who participated in Germany's Kosmische Musik/electronic music scene while still at its height.
In 1993 Jeff Greinke, an ambient musician and composer Rea first met in Seattle in the early 1980s, put together a new ensemble called Land. Greinke had previously been known for his textured compositions but with Land he wanted "to push this layering technique using a four piece band..." Rea and trumpeter Lesli Dalaba were original members and were soon joined by drummer Ed Pias. Rea remained with the group throughout its lifespan. He described Land's music as "an odd blend of jazz, rock, electronic, and world music." in 1993 Rea also supported Greinke on sessions for his solo album Big Weather, released in 1994, adding guitar work to two tracks. Land's eponymous debut album was recorded in 1994 and released by the Australian Extreme label in 1995. All of Land's albums started out as live radio broadcasts with, according to Rea, "...very little re-recording or cosmetic surgery after the fact, so they are accurate representations of the band's live sound."
A May, 1996 concert broadcast formed the basis for most of Land's second album, Archipelago. Later that year Rea arranged for Land to tour China, performing in Beijing, Kunming, and Chengdu, as well as Hong Kong and Macau, in November and December. The tour included a performance at the Beijing International Jazz Festival. Rea also performed with Land's Lesli Dalaba (trumpet), guzheng virtuoso Wang Yong, Austrian violinist Andreas Schreiber, Dutch drummer Han Bennink, and Claudio Puntin and Steffen Schorn on horns at Keep In Touch, reportedly China's first internet cafe. The jam session produced a mixture of American style free jazz and European influenced improvisation blended at times with traditional Chinese music. The results were captured on the album Free Touching: Live in Beijing at Keep in Touch, which was released as a double CD in March, 2004. February 1997 also saw the recording of "Deep", the final track for Archipelago, with finishing touches completed in July. The album was released later that year. Rea also contributed guitar work to the track "Threads", which appeared on Greinke's 1998 album Swimming.
By 1998 Land had gone through a number of personnel changes and had developed a much harder-edged sound. Andrew Bartlett, writing in a 1999 article in Seattle Weekly, described the music at that time, in part: "LAND's sound is a swirl — a clicking, cascading, jolting mix of sonorities and styles." Rea is quoted in the article: "The current lineup is more of a 'rock' band than earlier editions, and is much more explosive and in-your-face. Our connection with ambient music is pretty tenuous at this point." The final incarnation of the band, which recorded the album Road Movies between June, 1998 and February 1999, included Greinke, Rea, Dalaba, bassist Fred Chalenor, and drummer Bill Rieflin, who had previously worked with Rea in The Vagaries and on the Shredder Orpheus soundtrack. Road Movies was not released until 2001. It was named one of the Top Ten releases of 2001 by Pulse! (Instrumental/Ambient) and the Seattle Weekly (Jazz). Lesli Dalaba decided to leave Land later that year and the remaining members agreed to part company amicably.
Between 1998 and 2001 Rea was also the leader of the improvisational free jazz quartet Stackpole, which won a Golden Ear award from Earshot Jazz magazine for Best Northwest Outside Jazz Group in 2000. Stackpole released a self-titled album in 2001. During this period Rea also appeared on albums by Rik Wright and the duo of Craig Flory and Doug Haire. He also contributed to two tracks on the Infrasound Collective' compilation album Owasso Night Atlas, released in 2000.
- Monaghan, Peter (06). "On Guitar, Dennis Rea". Earshot Jazz. pp. 9–10.
- Rea, Dennis. "Biography". Dennis Rea (website). Archived from the original on 2008-06-07. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- Rea, Dennis; Melton, Jeff (December 2001). "Exposé Magazine interview". Exposé Magazine. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- "SKY". Thunder Collectors pages. 2006-02-20. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
- "Sky Records". Discogs. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
- "LAND". LAND. Extreme. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- Greinke, Jeff (1998-08-19). "Jeff Greinke, Places of Motility Interview". AmbiEntrance. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
- Rea, Dennis (2006). Live at the Forbidden City. iUniverse. pp. 179–191. ISBN 0-595-39048-X.
- "Big Weather". The Edge. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- "Archipelago". The Edge.
- Rea, Dennis. "LAND". Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- "Profile: Jeff Greinke". Star's End (radio program). Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- Müller-Gödecke, Cornelie (1996-11-10). "Beijing Jazz Festival 1996". Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- "Free Touching: Live In Beijing". Verge Music Distribution. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
- "Noise Asia Records". Noise Asia Records. 2004. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
- "Archipelago". The Edge. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- Bartlett, Andrew (1999-02-24). "Tones United". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
- "Road Movies". The Edge.
- Rea, Dennis. "LAND CD Reviews". Retrieved 2007-11-29.[dead link]
- Rea, Dennis. "Stackpole". Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- Rea, Dennis. "Dennis Rea: Discography". Retrieved 2011-04-05.
- First World Music home page. Retrieved October 18, 2007.