Intuit Ensemble is led by saxophonist Brendan Rush Dance whose bebop and big band influences have served as a basis for the groups' traditional jazz approach. Brendan Dance has centered on jazz while also exploring pop, funk, acid jazz, gospel and rock styles in a wide range of groups throughout his career. He studied jazz at the University of Arizona and The Milwaukee Conservatory of Music in Wisconsin and has toured and performed with numerous acts over the past two decades including The Spencer Davis Group, Big Bang Theory, Channel 23, The Mo'fessionals, Lee Press On & the Nails, Harvey Scales & the Seven Sounds, WC Easy & The Allstars, and Happenstance. He appeared on the highly acclaimed "Crow" CD by Preacher Boy, and toured Europe throughout 1997/98 making numerous TV and BBC London (and all over England) appearances in support of that record. Here's a review by Forrest Bryant MUSIC FOR DEADHEADS? When looking for a good jam session, the neighborhood mortuary is pretty low on most folks' list of happening venues. But San Francisco's Intuit Ensemble uses just such a space to good effect on their debut album, Reliance (available from Phasepacket Records). The ensemble, a trio of sax (Brendan Rush Dance), drums (David Julius), and bass (Damon Lee), recorded the album at The Embalming Room, a small studio carved out of an old funeral home in the Mission District. The strange acoustics of the room are noticeable from the first notes, lending an odd sort of singing-in-the-shower sound, a kind of reverberated flatness. Depending on the tempo of the tune, the effect can be one of loneliness or claustrophobia. The trio takes on nine standards in a crisp 41-minute set, mostly of the modern variety. 'Beatrice,' the Sam Rivers ballad that opens the CD, is given a lovingly lyrical and rather haunting treatment that demands a second listen. The other slow tracks on the album ('Easy Living' and 'Autumn in NY') take on a last-dance feel with dragging brushwork on drums, heavy bass and a weariness in the sax playing. The uptempo turns (including two Coltrane numbers and Tadd Dameron's 'Ladybird') have a more nervous edge. Throughout, the music retains a loose, improvisational feel based on rambling sax lines, off-kilter scales and understated bass solos, a mildly 'out' sound that nevertheless stays close to the straight-ahead jazz concept. This middle ground between the mainstream and the avant-garde can be treacherous, but the Intuit Ensemble navigates it well. The album comes full circle at the end, with a cool version of 'St. James Infirmary' that's so smoky it should be screened for emphysema. Reliance is mood music for harried urbanites, and holds up well to repeated listening. The same can't be said for the Embalming Room: shortly after Intuit's recording session in December 2000, the studio itself passed away. In 1999 Dance met David Julius (skins) and Damon Lee (bass) and a number of impromptu gigs led to first incarnation of 'intuit ensemble' and then to the 'Reliance' recording sessions and some more gigs. Since then paths have diverged, yet 'intuit ensemble' still gigs occasionally. Brendan Dance has been woodshedding and gearing up for the next incarnation of 'intuit ensemble' with some highly anticipated and exciting new contributors. Meanwhile, Brendan Dance has recently had the honor of playing with wonderful Philly singer 'Candice' and in the company of the legendary Donald 'Duck' Bailey on Drums. It was a packed house and a great show. Dance also stresses his recent surge of studiousness. ' I discovered an amazing jazz saxophonist last year that inspired me to take it up a notch or two' he says. 'Being able to observe a true master of the jazz idiom and horn (Andrew Speight) on a regular basis, and even sit in with such great musicians somewhat regularly has really had me working harder. I love it'. So Dance continues to grow with the art form and even emit an occasional body of work such as 'Love Tank', a jazzy word thing with a bit of irreverence where Dance plays soprano sax, flute, and tin whistles as well as vociferating some edgy words throughout. 'This was a true artistic accident that got recorded and a CD made' Says Dance. 'We've had a half dozen gigs or so, but I'm not focusing on that project currently. I'm going more straight ahead right now'. The new recording is in the works, anticipated July 2006. Another review of 'Reliance' In the cool of the evening, when everything is getting' kinda groovy...Reliance is a spooky little recording. Technically a tenor trio, the Intuit Ensemble sports an even sparer sound than that stripped-down format. Brenden Rush Dance is the reedmeister weaving his way through an odd but interesting collection of fringe standards. Fringe standards because these songs are all well known and associated with free jazz. Sam River's 'Beatrice,' John Coltrane's 'Impressions' and 'Mr. P.C.' all show up. The band winks at Sonny Rollins with 'There Will Never Be Another You' and test drives Be Bop on Tadd Dameron's 'Ladybird,' all very effectively.The recording is made with the band set far back in the mix and a good deal of reverb. This sets up a late night ambience, a midnight temperament that is a bit dark and decadent. A definite mood piece, Reliance is recommended for space music fans as well as jazz fans.~ C. Michael Bailey.
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