Jon Deitemyer – Drums
Leslie Beukelman – Vocals
Rob Clearfield – Piano/Wurlitzer
Justin Thomas – Vibraphone
Matt Ulery – Bass
Tall Tales is the debut album by Chicago-based drummer Jon Deitemyer, who has been a staple sideman around the Chicago music scene for years. Tales also marks Deitemyer’s recording debut as a leader and composer. As one might expect, this album of original work does not disappoint, but rather triumphs through expressive, honest and fearless compositions.
The list opens with “Deep Breath,” a wistful, urgent groove by the rhythm section accompanied by the dreamy vocals of Leslie Beukelman. The lyrics sung by Beukelman recall visions one might experience in an apartment on a rainy day. Then, the composition morphs abruptly, winding in and out of various grooves while fluidly accommodating stately solos by vibraphonist Justin Thomas and pianist Rob Clearfield. The song draws to a close with conclusive lyrics by Beukelman and a commanding drum solo by Deitemyer. The opening arrangement suggests to the listener that there is much more to be heard beyond the virtuosic execution one would expect from this drummer and his band.
“Midnight Guide” is a beautiful ballad that will draw even the most passive of listeners into a deep reflective space, while “Stretch” finds Deitemyer and the band aptly stretching out with delightfully intuitive improvisations. Clearfield and Thomas take masterful solos, each anchored by Deitemyer and bassist Matt Ulery’s accompaniment.
“A Little South” opens with a lovely solo piano introduction by Clearfield, making way for a truly unique and catchy groove by the rhythm section. This is where you find bassist Matt Ulery front and center, providing a truly poignant solo. The album ends with the upbeat “Stroll,” which serves as the perfect send-off to an earnest debut by Deitemyer.
One can only hope to see artistry like this continue to catch the ears of many more listeners.