“The chemistry betwixt the players, not to mention their clear sympatico emphasis on their leader’s artistic outlook, makes this a band in the purest sense […] remarkable.” – Michael Toland, The Big Takeover



Released September 1, 2023

Christian Dillingham (bass)
Dave Miller (guitar)
Lenard Simpson (saxophone)
Greg Artry (drums)

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Bassist and Ohio native Christian Dillingham is proud to present Cascades, his debut album for Dave Douglas’ prestigious Greenleaf Music label. “I’ve admired and respected the artists and albums that Greenleaf has produced for many years,” Dillingham says. “Dave’s creative vision and ability to produce quality records made Greenleaf the perfect fit for my music. I’m so grateful to be joining the Greenleaf family and I’m elated to share this album with the world.”

The album’s 10 original compositions reveal an open-hearted and adventurous spirit, a sensibility honed through wide-ranging experience. The quartet sound he achieves with the aid of guitarist Dave Miller, saxophonist Lenard Simpson and drummer Greg Artry is unique in its balance of freedom and structure, swing and backbeat, acoustic jazz and atmospheric sonics. “The music that inspires me draws from many genres,” Dillingham remarks. “I’ve played bass with bands and ensembles in many different styles, and that’s led to really varied sources of inspiration. The tunes on this record reflect that, as well as life experiences dating back as far as childhood.”

Dillingham played on gospel star Kirk Franklin’s GRAMMY-winning album Long Live Love, though the bassist has amassed a particularly long list of credits in the classical world, playing in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Grant Park Symphony, Chicago Opera Theatre and the acclaimed new music orchestra Alarm Will Sound. He is also a member of the Chicago Sinfonietta, Present Music (Milwaukee), Fulcrum Point New Music Project and the Chicago Philharmonic.

At the same time, Dillingham has become a vital presence on the Chicago jazz scene, performing at Fred Anderson’s iconic Velvet Lounge, the Green Mill, the Jazz Showcase, Constellation Chicago, Hungry Brain, Andy’s Jazz Club, Elastic Arts and other Chicago venues as well as at the Chicago Jazz Festival. He has played and recorded with dozens of top musicians, including Terreon Gully, Jeff “Tain” Watts, John Legend, Herlin Riley, Peter Bernstein, Kevin Mahogany, Willie Pickens, Dee Alexander, Victor Goines, Bobby Broom, Sean Jones, Greg Ward and Mike Reed.

These are the credentials of a player and composer with open ears and a distinctly inclusive musical point of view. The players he surrounds himself with, likewise, have varied personalities and different sets of interests that they bring to the table. Miller’s bebop chops are unassailable though his aesthetic steers toward the scrappy, lo-fi and sonically unexpected. Simpson’s soaring lyricism on alto and soprano, Artry’s crisp articulation and unerring groove, and of course Dillingham’s rock-solid and adventurous bass bring to light a musical language rich in “sweeping melodies, guttural reflections, and sound explorations,” as Dillingham’s friend and eminent trumpeter Sean Jones writes in his liner notes. “The body of this album,” Jones continues, “would be most enjoyed by fastening oneself to a fixed position and ‘going there’ with them.”

“This was the first project that Dave and Lenard worked together on,” Dillingham reports. “They both have such distinct voices on their instruments and are willing to go in whatever direction the music leads. I knew they would be the perfect fit for the tunes on this record.” Their spirited, virtuosic trading choruses on “Undulation” is a vivid case in point. “Greg Artry and I have worked together in many situations in Chicago,” Dillingham adds. “We’ve developed a sense of trust that is essential between bass and drums. He provides the fire that any band needs, but shapes that with a wide dynamic range and color palette.”

Several Dillingham compositions are inspired by his upbringing and personal history, such as “The Bottoms,” named for a predominantly black neighborhood in the town where he grew up. “My grandmother’s church and my family and childhood friends are tied to this place for me,” says the composer, “and I try to capture some of that soulfulness with this piece.” “South State Line Road,” too, is a meditation on his family home, with a theme that evokes “warm childhood memories, trying times, reverie, and a sense of yearning. The improvisation is free and signifies the process of finding oneself. The bass ostinato represents the throughline of that developmental process, which eventually revisits home.”

The theme of race and identity percolates, on the dissonant, rocking final track “Code Switch” as well as the bop-oriented minor blues “Like No Other.” “Growing up black/mixed race presents many challenges in search of one’s identity,” Dillingham says. “This tune is about staying true to yourself and the quest for originality in all aspects of life.” Relatedly, other compositions deal with emotional states, such as the lyrical “Homeostasis,” the assertively swinging “One Breath,” the dark and spacious “Lost in Desolation” and the open-ended “No Froust,” which Dillingham calls “an exploratory composition to clear the mind and stay fresh.”

Like all the players who created it, Cascades is vibrantly three-dimensional, a fresh and impassioned communique from a fine composer on the rise. “The road to true artistry often is a journey through one’s past,” writes Sean Jones in an apt assessment of what Dillingham has created with Cascades. “The song of our struggles and enlightened moments,” Jones adds, “depicts our most profound gift to humanity.”

Track Listing:

  1. The Bottoms
  2. Like No Other
  3. South State Line Road
  4. One Breath
  5. Lost in Desolation
  6. Homeostasis
  7. No Froust
  8. Undulation
  9. Someday Soon
  10. Code Switch


  • Lenard Simpson, alto and soprano saxophone
  • Dave Miller, guitar
  • Christian Dillingham, bass
  • Greg Artry, drums

Production Credits:

All compositions by Christian Dillingham, RILL DILL MUSIC INCORPORATED (ASCAP)

Recorded on November 17 & 19, 2021 at Pro Musica, Chicago, IL by Ken Christianson
Mixed and mastered by Ken Christianson
Cover photo by Mikkel Patrick Avery
Design by Lukas Frei
Christian Dillingham is a D’Addario Orchestral endorsing artist.
Lenard Simpson plays D’Addario and Key Leaves products.


“Christian Dillingham is [an] artist to keep an eye on… Constantly interesting listening.” – ★★★★ Jeff Cebulski, Chicago Jazz

“The whole album is fascinating: tense, fresh, human. An extraordinary journey.” – ★★★★ Jean-Claude Vantroyen, Le Soir

“The chemistry betwixt the players, not to mention their clear sympatico emphasis on their leader’s artistic outlook, makes this a band in the purest sense […] remarkable.” – Michael Toland, The Big Takeover

“Christian Dillingham and his music deserve attention… I already look forward to the next work from this outstanding bass player and composer.” – Tor Hammerø, Nettavisen

Press Inquiries

Matt Merewitz
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Website: christiandillingham.com
Facebook: Christian Dillingham
Instagram: @cdhambass
YouTube: Christian Dillingham