How does someone that supports the introspective lyricism of Patricia Barber, the epic whimsy of Matt Ulery, and the modern virtuosity of Zach Brock funnel his musical life into one coherent original album? Tall Tales is the unique manifestation of drummer/composer Jon Deitemyer's genre wanderlust, and it represents a compact of sorts; an attempt to merge the restless creativity of instrumental jazz with the clarity and sincerity of lyrical song-writing. "I have the good fortune to interpret other people's music so often as a sideman," says Deitemyer, "and the time came for me to prioritize those disparate experiences into something personal; something akin to spinning a yarn for friends."
He invited his long-running musical collaborators to create the sympathetic and creative force that drives Tall Tales in the prolific bassist Matt Ulery and the imaginative pianist Rob Clearfield. The trio fuels Matt Ulery's Loom, Grazyna Auguscik's band, and Russ Johnson's quartet, and plays with the uncanny familiarity that emerges only after years of mutual aspiration. Jon continues, “Matt, Rob, and I began playing together about a decade ago, and the appeal for me was immediate. Rob plays with such beautiful vulnerability; he’s never afraid to bare his soul for the sake of the music. And in short, Matt is my musical brother. There is a level of wordless trust between us that I find rare in life, let alone music.”
Tall Tales required more than the aforementioned trio to fulfill its promise, and Leslie Beukelman was the immediate choice as the album’s vocalist. Leslie has long been respected for her gorgeous voice and sublime delivery, whether in Miss Remember, the Oh Yeahs, or her own project Brite Lite. But on Tall Tales she manages to effortlessly shift between roles: from the patient sensitivity of “Midnight Guide” to the wordless post-bop melodies of “Stretch,” Leslie fully embraces each musical offering.
Rounding out the ensemble is the inimitable Justin Thomas, who injects every composition with his singular brand of sly virtuosity. Justin is fast becoming known to the larger jazz community through his work with Marquis Hill, Dana Hall, and Dee Alexander. “I have admired Justin’s playing for so long,” remarks Deitemyer. “As a drummer I am always drawn to musicians with a highly-developed rhythmic concept, and Justin is the quintessential example of just that. He has a ferocity to his improvising that raises up the band around him.”
The music on Tall Tales covers a wide swath of emotional territory. Songs such as "Deep Breath" and "Gratitude" blend the narrative qualities of a pop song with energetic improvisation. Justin brings a bit of odd-metered funkiness to “Fifteen”, while Rob imbues "A Little South" with his gospel-tinged touch. "I wanted to write and create an album that felt transparent," Deitemyer continues, "so often instrumental jazz is rewarding but in a sort of vague way, and I sought to translate the joy I feel playing music into a more literal message for the listener."
"Anyone who has admired the music of vocalists Patricia Barber and Grazyna Auguscik, bassist-bandleader Matt Ulery and many other major Chicago figures likely has heard Deitemyer at the drums. He provides remarkably flexible, empathetic accompaniment in all these settings, his playing generally light, lithe and keenly responsive to the music around him." - Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
"One must listen to how gracefully all the elements come together on ‘Over Under Other’ and take into account the various ways that Deitemyer influences the pace and intensity of the music." - Richard Kamins
“Jon Deitemyer is the drummer everyone wants right now.” - Patricia Barber
“Jon Deitemyer has earned a reputation as a must-hear drummer and doesn't disappoint” - Tim Gault, Chicago Jazz.com
"Deitemyer exhibits his elegant and reserved touch with the quiet whispers of the brushes... anchoring the group's orchestral sounds." - Hrayr Attarian, ChicagoJazz.com