More than a labor of love, The Dream of You is a reckoning, a polished-to-a-sheen tribute to bebop’s greatest orchestral mind. Like Tadd Dameron, vocalist/producer Vanessa Rubin came up in Cleveland, and she’s spent years developing a program devoted to his seminal, often lushly romantic music. Directed and co-produced by Cecil Bridgewater, the album hits all the right notes, with a thoughtful array of Dameron’s standards and lesser-known works arranged for a talent-laden octet.
In many ways this project highlights the vital, ongoing presence of bop-era masters and their unprecedented creative longevity. Although Dameron died in 1965 at the age of 48, afflicted by addiction and a lack of playing and recording opportunities in his final decade, Rubin makes brilliant use of nonagenarian stars Jimmy Heath and Benny Golson, and the late Frank Foster and Willie “Face” Smith (a Cleveland jazz institution) for arrangements. The results are consistently lovely, and often revelatory.