Dion Parson

Independent

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“… a soloistic drummer with a pianist’s propensity toward making music..”

-–Lazaro Vega, The Grand Rapid Press

Dion Parson is one of New York’s finest young drummers. Born June 11, 1967, in St.

Thomas, Dion’s musical foundation ranges from classical, reggae, calypso, jazz,

African, and pop music.

Parson’s first musical instrument was the trombone, but at the age of 15, he began

playing drums, and was awarded a grant from Virgin Islands Council on the Arts to

study at Interlochen Music Academy in Michigan. Upon returning home, he was

selected to be the VI representative in the McDonald’s All-American High School

Band. Dion later attended Rutgers University in New Jersey in 1985, where he studied

percussion with Keith Copeland and William Moersch, receiving his B.M. in Music

Education in 1990.

In 1994, Dion began studying with master drummer Michael Carvin. A relationship

he maintained for 14 years.

After graduation Dion moved to New York where he quickly became part of the jazz

scene playing with such greats as the late Milt Jackson, Monty Alexander, Jon Faddis,

Steve Grossman, Gary Bartz, Terence Blanchard, Geri Allen, Donald Harrison, Don

Byron, David Sanchez, Ray Anderson, Stephen Scott, Marc Cary, Lee Konitz, Ernest

Ranglin, Ron Blake, Terell Stafford, Cyrus Chestnut, Wycliffe Gordon, Babatunde

Olatunji, Baaba Maal, Joanne Brackeen, Dianne Reeves, Bill Salter, Bill Saxton, and

Steve Turre. His association with these musicians has taken him well beyond US

borders on tours to such places as Japan, Europe, Canada, the West Indies, Africa, and

the Middle East.

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Being exposed to these great musicians enabled Dion to record for several major

labels, including Columbia, Sony, Gramavision, Arabesque, Blue Note, Verve, Enja,

Koch Records and Concord Records. His recording experience and close association

with fellow St. Thomas native Ron Blake led to the birth of Tahmun Records, which

housed his first recordings as a leader, 21st Century (co-led with Ron Blake), and his

first solo effort, People Music, released in 2001.

In 2007 Dion started ‘Dion Parson’s Unity’. Through this band Dion unites different

musicians, people, influences and cultures through his music.

In January of 2006, Dion started playing with the Broadway show, The Color Purple.

Although a newcomer to the theater world, his extensive experience with various

styles of music made him an instant fit in the musically comprehensive show that

“blends and blurs the lines of gospel, pop, ragtime and blues.”

Always interested in giving back, coupled with his desire to ensure a continuous crop

of talented musicians, Dion began his teaching career at Rutgers University in 1992 as

an adjunct professor. He enjoyed teaching, and this experience opened other doors of

opportunity as an educator, including classes and workshops at Cheyney University

(PA), VI Council on the Arts Jazz Exchange Workshops (as part of the St. Croix Jazz

Festival), Artists in Residence Program—the Arts High School (NJ), Harlem School

of the Arts (NY), North Carolina University, and Manna House Workshops (Harlem,

NY). Since February of 2005 Dion has been the drum/percussion instructor at New

Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) Jazz for Teens program and Stevens Institute

of Technology: Hoboken, New Jersey, USA, where he conducts drum workshops,

theory classes, and directs student ensembles. In addition, he continues to give private

instruction in New York City and around the world while touring.

In 2007 Dion started as the creative director of the new international music

organization United Jazz International of which Branford Marsalis and Steve

Coleman are the founding fathers.

For more information about this organization please contact Nicole Koerts (the

president of United Jazz International) at nicole@unitedjazz.com

Although he continues to make music education a priority, Dion persists in his efforts

to master his instrument. Dion’s vast experience, as performer, educator and lifelong

student, allow him to further broaden his knowledge and embrace opportunities to

bring his music to the world.

“Parson’s style and sound owe much to Roy Haynes and Max Roach. Skittering open

rolls, high-pitched toms, and bright cymbals; dance unconsciously in the background,

always on top of the beat.”