The Dalton Gang is a ten piece band led by
guitarist, arranger and composer Willy Dalton.
The band mixes jazz with a blend of funk and latin music.
The members are freelance musicians in the New York metropolitan area. Among their credits are recordings and performances with such artists as Buddy Rich,Machito, Lionel Hampton, Tito Puente, Daniel Ponce, Cissy Houston, and others. The Dalton Gang is a real "group", not a band of musicians brought together for a special project.
The band performed for the first time in 1979 .
"The Dalton Gang is really a labor of love," says bandleader Willy
Dalton. "The dedication and commitment of the musicians is what keeps the band alive. When I write for the band, I try to draw on the
mix of sounds that we play as working musicians in the New York area-
-jazz, funk, latin, big band, etc. Putting this all in one package and
making the music challenging to play is what I'm aiming for."
Vinnie Cutro, trumpet
Conrad Zulauf, trombone
Mark Friedman, alto sax, flute
Frank Elmo, tenor sax, flute
Dan Nigro, bari sax
Mike DiLorenzo, keys
John Hughes, bass
Vince Cherico, drums
Frank Valdes, percussion
Willy Dalton, guitar
Miami Shadows, 1995
Just For Tonight, 2002
Last Year's Waltz, 2006
label: Second Step Music
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"Willy Dalton, New Jersey's jazz-meets-blues-meets-pop-and-funk guitarist, arranger and composer, kn..."Willy Dalton, New Jersey's jazz-meets-blues-meets-pop-and-funk guitarist, arranger and composer, knows how to make music fun while maintaining artistic vigor. His 10-piece Dalton Gang -- which usually includes such aces as trumpeter Vinnie Cutro, tenorman Frank Elmo, alto saxophonist Mark Friedman and drummer Vince Cherico -- demonstrates his prowess. The band lays into anything from a mambo-esque version of "New York State of Mind" to his own slow and funky "Last Year's Waltz" to Monk's bubbling "Bye-Ya" with zest and musicality.
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Paterson, New Jersey has been keeping a secret from the national jazz community that has finall...
Paterson, New Jersey has been keeping a secret from the national jazz community that has finally been exposed with Last Year’s Waltz, the fourth album from The Dalton Gang on the Second Step Music label.
After more than 25 years together, this atypical ten-piece workingman aggregation from a typical blue-collar town stands on the brink of wider recognition with a varied program of eleven tunes that include inventive arrangements of classic songs by Thelonious Monk, Gene Ammons and blues legend Percy Mayfield. But it is the intriguing compositions by the leader of the band that may well elevate their musical social order nationwide.
“I‘ve always considered myself a working class musician,” says Willy Dalton, the Irish-American guitarist who leads this Latin jazz band. “However, I’m also a perennial optimist and always figured our evolving concept of mixing Latin, r&b, blues and jazz would one day pay off.”
Ironically, it could the Dalton Gang’s anonymity outside of Paterson that keeps the band’s unique musical blend fresh. Because each member is a solid professional full-time musician and the lack of consistent gigging opportunities outside of New Jersey preclude them from investing wholly into the one group they truly love, it would seem that they would lack that special cohesiveness that from bands that tour regularly. But the love for Dalton’s music keeps them together as evidenced by the relatively few personnel changes made in 27 years and the palpable chemistry displayed whether they’re on stage or in a recording studio.
“I write for each musician and their own individual style,” Dalton says echoing not only Duke Ellington’s famous philosophy of using the orchestra as his instrument, but also the lessons the guitarist learned under the tutelage of famed jazz educator David Berger.
“When I write I actually hear what (keyboard player)Mike Dilorenzo is going to do before he sees the chart,” Dalton continues. “I write for (trumpeter) Vinnie Cutro and for (tenor saxophonist) Frank Elmo and know how their style fits into what the rest of the gang sounds like. To go out and hire some studio star session player as a ringer just wouldn’t work”
The wide-ranging, genre-crossing sound of the Dalton Gang comes as a direct result of their leader’s eclectic musical upbringing. Raised in the melting pot of the Washington Heights section of Harlem in New York City, Dalton heard every kind of music as a kid.
“My first musical hero was Kenny Burrell after hearing his Midnight Blue album,” reflects the guitarist who also mentions Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino and Joe Pass as early influences. “But then I fell under the spell of Grant Green and Carlos Santana, which led me to a lot of styles from big bands, rock, flamenco and a lot of nylon guitar playing.”
Before going to Boston College to get a degree in English, Tito Puente and the whole New York salsa scene epitomized by the music on Fania Records engulfed his musical being and set him on a musical course from which he’s only slightly deviated from. After Boston, Dalton briefly settled in San Francisco where he got to hear saxophonist Gene Ammons in a weekly residency at the famed nightclub Keystone Korner.
“It was towards the end of his career and once I heard his records I was hooked. Plus there were some very innovative Latin jazz bands in the Bay Area that influenced me including a group called Azteca and one led by a much underrated trumpeter named Luis Gasca.”
After a short stint playing in Miami and hanging out with some Cuban musicians, Dalton returned to the New York area where the Dalton Gang came together almost on a lark in 1979. The guitarist was hired as an arranger/conductor for a session with a pop singer that fell through. It was love at first hearing as the quality of the musicians gathered inspired Dalton as they’ve been working together ever since.
It was a little over a decade before the band developed enough material for their first album, 1992’s Rhythms. Their pacing quickened with Miami Shadows in ’98 and their first 21st century release Just For Tonight in 2002.
“I have a real friendship with each and every last one of these guys,” concludes Dalton, who augments leading his band with session work, private lessons and teaching at Passaic County Community College in Paterson. “We’re all working class musicians supporting our families making a living from music. That’s why when we come together as the Dalton Gang we always have fun challenging each other.”
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"Just for Tonight is an excellent album and makes the listener long to hear more.The group is one of..."Just for Tonight is an excellent album and makes the listener long to hear more.The group is one of the most unique ensembles in jazz and is equally at home in Latin music and Tower of Power-style funk."--William Grim, All Music Guide
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"The ten-piece Dalton Gang packs a steady brass punch pumped by the beats of funk, Latin, blues and ..."The ten-piece Dalton Gang packs a steady brass punch pumped by the beats of funk, Latin, blues and New Orleans styles topped by shards of syncopated bop. These 12 tracks are delivered with well-honed precision"--Jazz Times
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...Every once in a while, amid the usual morass of less imaginative smooth jazz releases, an indie p......Every once in a while, amid the usual morass of less imaginative smooth jazz releases, an indie project comes out of nowhere with the power to capture various places in the imagination and retain a stronghold of hope there. The winner of the originality prize this month is the Dalton Gang, whose swinging brass craziness infuses Miami Shadows with more pep than should be legal. The Gang might be a little intimidating for typical NAC radio, which is all the more reason to love it."-- Jazziz
"This little-known release is worth investigating"-- Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene
We have over 90 charts--original tunes and also original arrangements of standards by Horace Silver, Tito Puente, The Beatles, etc.