Music of the 1920s through 1960s For Events
Dean Mora is a multi-faceted pianist, theatre & classical organist, harpsichordist, bandleader, silent movie accompanist, record producer, and musical director whose professional career of 25+ years has encompassed a wide range of musical styles and genres, from classical music to vintage American dance music, musical theatre, ballet music, and sacred & secular choral music. However, it is his love for historical American dance music (Victorian Era, Ragtime, 1920s Hot Jazz, and Big Band music from the 1930s-1960s) that has earned him worldwide acclaim, and his musical groups have garnered many fans who admire his devotion to authenticity and to his faithful re-creations of 20th-Century jazz and swing music masterpieces.
was born and raised in Los Angeles, and earned his Bachelor of Music degree at California State University, Northridge. He studied classical piano with Frank McGinnis and Francoise Regnat, classical organ with Sam Swartz, and harpsichord with Suzanne Shapiro. However, at this same time Dean was enthralled with music of the 1910s and 1920s (he saw the motion picture “The Sting” when he was 11 years old, and was instantly hooked with the ragtime music featured in the movie). After graduating from CSUN, Dean joined up with noted ragtime scholar Galen Wilkes’ Palm Leaf Ragtime Orchestra, and later on with another local ragtime group, The Magnetic Ragtime Orchestra.
In 1994 Dean joined the 1920s/1930s-era dance band led by former child actor Johnny Crawford. This experience emboldened him to start his own similarly-styled band, and in November 1994 the first concert of the newly-named Lucky Lindy Modernistic Jazz Orchestra was held. Shortly afterwards, the band’s name was shortened to the Modernistic Jazz Orchestra, and then changed again to Mora’s Modern Rhythmists.
In 1997 the Rhythmists were hired as the Monday-night house band at the Derby, a nightclub situated in one of the original Brown Derby Restaurants, in Hollywood, and which was considered by many to be the “ground-zero” of the Swing Revival movement of the 1990s. Soon, Mora’s Modern Rhythmists began to garner a reputation as one of the best swing bands in Los Angeles, and their Monday night performances gained a cult following among dancers and band enthusiasts alike. They remained at the club for almost three years. Since this time, the band has performed in most of the major historical venues in the Southern California area, including the Palladium, The Orpheum Theatre, The Los Angeles Theatre, The Avalon Casino Ballroom, The Biltmore and Roosevelt Hotels, The Queen Mary, and The Hollywood Athletic Club.
In 1998, Dean met 90-year old legendary big band arranger Lyle “Spud” Murphy, and the two became fast friends; Spud would tell stories of his associations with big band luminaries such as Benny Goodman, Glen Gray, and Charlie Barnet. Dean would often take Spud to the Derby nightclub to listen to the band play some of his arrangements he made back in the 1930s. The two remained friends until Spud’s passing in 2005. The band’s 2002 CD “Goblin Market” is a tribute to his work.
Dean’s various ensembles vary in style and repertoire, ranging from Victorian-era ballroom music to early jazz and swing. Mora’s Social Quadrille Orchestra plays dance music from the mid- and late-Victorian Era; the Euphonic Ragtime Orchestra specializes in pre-jazz popular music; Mora’s Modern Rhythmists is devoted to the “hotel”-style jazz and dance music of the 1920s and early 1930s; The New California Poppies is modeled on the classic “Speakeasy”-style bands of the 1920s, with an emphasis on re-creating the jazz recordings of Los Angeles-area bands of that era; Dean Mora & His Orchestra has a repertoire that honors the classic “Big Band” Era of the 1930s & 1940s; Mora’s Modern Swingtet is fashioned after the 6-piece John Kirby Orchestra and plays the small group classics of the 1930s & 1940s; the repertoire of the Latinaires almost exclusively contains the Latin ballroom hits of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s; the Dean Mora Quintet pays homage to the Benny Goodman small groups (Trio, Quartet, Quintet, etc.) as well as associated musical acts; and the Dean Mora Big Band features the big band sounds of the Rat Pack era and beyond (they are sometimes billed as Dean Mora & his Groovy Orchestra — get the idea?)
Dean has released 6 CDs under his own name, including Mr. Rhythmist Goes To Town, Goblin Market, 20th Century Closet, and Devil’s Serenade.