Suzanne Dean

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Suzanne Dean is an arranger, educator, composer, keyboardist, and vocalist. She has worked as an orchestrator on the television series Jake and the Fat Man and has taught at Berklee College of Music since 1997. Dean released her first album, Dreams Come True, on Nova Records in 1987 and her second, I Wonder, on Nova in 1991. These albums featured some of L.A.'s finest studio musicians such as contemporary jazz greats John Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Peter Erskine. In addition to composing and arranging most of the music, which ranges from small jazz group to 32-piece orchestra and from acoustic jazz to fusion, she also served as the keyboardist and vocalist on several tracks. The recordings continue to receive airplay today in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

Currently, Dean teaches classes such as Writing Skills; Arranging 1; and Artistry, Creativity, and Inquiry in Berklee's Contemporary Writing and Production Department. She is a member of Broadcast Music Inc. and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

  • Career Highlights
    • Former leader of the Suzanne Dean Jazz Quartet
    • Recordings include Dreams Come True, I Wonder, and Come to Paradise
    • Orchestrator/composer's assistant for the TV show Jake and the Fat Man
    • String arrangement on Pat Coil's release Departures
    • Author and teacher of Arranging 1 for Berklee Online
    • Past studies at Denison University, New England School of Photography, Sundance Institute Film Scoring Workshop, and California State University, Northridge
  • Education
    • B.M., Berklee College of Music
    • A.A., University of Maine, Augusta

In Their Own Words

"I started playing guitar by ear and singing at the age of 10. I began jazz piano studies in 1974 after being inspired by a Bill Evans album, which a friend had given to me in college. In 1979 I was honored to meet and talk with the great pianist and composer at the Village Vanguard. He was kind enough to show a sincere interest in my music, which was truly inspirational to me. My advice to students is always to be brave and go up and say hello."

"A lot of the music that I wrote at Berklee as a student in the '80s ended up on my solo albums. I often tell my students that if you put a lot into your time at Berklee, you can get a lot out of it. It's a great place to begin working on your dreams."

"I remember walking down Boylston Street when I was in school, thinking, 'Wouldn't it be great to have talents like Peter Erskine play my music?' When I was preparing to record, as a result of good timing and good connections, I was lucky enough to get musicians like Erskine, John Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta, and a host of L.A.'s top session players to play on my albums. I can't compare anything to this incredible experience."

"When you are in the process of creating music, it's exciting to feel the adrenaline and passion that come from within. But when it's all done and out there, if you manage to reach into the hearts and souls of other people, people you don't know from all over the world, this is one of the ultimate rewards."