Dean Mongerio’s remarkably soulful saxophone playing is complemented by a striking versatility as a musician, composer, arranger, and producer, with a unique ability to adapt to nearly any musical setting. Born in New York, Dean grew up in Florida, where he picked up playing the alto saxophone at age 12. His talent immediately stood out. “I remember my mother came home one day with a compilation tape of jazz saxophonists,” he recalls. “The luck of it was that it had Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, Phil Woods, Eric Dolphy, Johnny Hodges, and several more; basically the ‘who’s who’ list of alto players.” It was then that the love for jazz set in. “It was the sound of Charlie Parker’s music that got me, and the feel and unbridled soul of Cannonball’s playing,” Dean says. “I was hooked.”
Dean went on to the University of North Florida where he studied with jazz legend Bunky Green, one of the innovators of modern jazz performance. After three years of study, just shy of turning 21, he left school and began performing nearly 200 dates a year all over the US at venues including Summerfest, Caesar’s Palace and The Bilagio in Las Vegas, The Supper Club and The Greatest Bar On Earth in New York City, and Merv Griffin’s Coconut Club in The Beverly Hilton in Beverley Hills, California.
Dean has cultivated his passionate and commanding playing style through a vast range of experience in Jazz, R&B, Rock, Pop, Funk, and Gospel, as well as producing and arranging numerous projects and leading several of his own groups in various musical genres.
On the more traditional side, Dean has performed with jazz artists Rufus Reid, Marcus Printup, Sam Rivers and Danny Gottlieb, as well as contemporary artists such as Chieli Minucci, Marc Antoine, Ed Calle, Chris Standring, Craig Chaquico, Will Donato and Blake Aaron. He’s also performed and/or recorded with a diverse array of mainstream artists including The Temptations, The O’Jays, Steve Cropper, The Drifters, Ryan Shaw, Khristian Dentley (Take 6) and Tony Battaglia (Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Mandy Moore, Shinedown). Dean has also been featured on recordings alongside Brandon Fields, Mike Miller, and David Sanborn.
In 2008, Dean produced, arranged, and performed on the debut album for Gospel Artist Manny Luster, which was nominated for the 2009 NIGMA Rhythm of Gospel award for Traditional Gospel Album of the Year, and went on to win Traditional Gospel Male Vocalist of the Year. Also in 2008, Dean co-founded The Groovemasters, a contemporary jazz group that quickly earned a place on the national stage as a powerhouse quartet built on a foundation of original music which captured mainstream and jazz audiences alike. In 2009, after several seasons of opening for notable artists as well as being featured headliners themselves, The Groovemasters released their eponymous EP, featuring the original Brown Rice, which earned the top Jazz song of 2010 chosen by Indie-Music.com (featuring Dean’s “fiercely funky saxophone playing”, as stated by one reviewer).
Dean moved to London in 2011 and immediately got to work with his own groups, performing at several famous venues including Charlie Wright’s, Ronnie Scott’s, and Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho. In January of 2013, Dean joined the European tour of the production New Jersey Nights, where he is currently featured on the tenor saxophone. The show has been performing at A-list venues all over the UK and Europe, including the UK’s largest theatre, the Edinburgh Playhouse, where–as stated by one critic–Dean “is given license to display his huge talent”. Another critic identifies the “incredible tenor sax solo from instrumentalist Dean Mongerio” as a highlight of the show.
Even while on tour, Dean has been working hard to write, produce, and promote his upcoming solo debut album. Scheduled for release in spring 2014, it will feature all original compositions while highlighting Dean’s unique, inventive approach to using effects pedals with the saxophone.