The first single, “Vibin’ Out,” is written and produced by hitmaker Darren Rahn. You can check it out below. The album drops October 4.
It’s common. You go to school and prepare for a certain career path, but somehow the focus shifts. Years can go by before you realize that you have veered off course. R&B-jazz saxophonist Dante’ caught himself drifting and after some soul searching, realized that his joy would be found in music as a recording artist. He assembled an experience crew of proven producers, songwriters and musicians to help him craft “Mint,” his debut album that drops October 4.
Dante’ is a Berklee College of Music graduate who was featured on rapper J. Cole’s 2011 heralded first album, “Cole World: The Sideline Story.” As an entrepreneur, he created Dante’ Neck Straps, handcrafted performance straps used by sax stars Dave Koz, Paul Taylor, Jackiem Joyner, Marcus Anderson, Walter Beasley, Mike Phillips, Joe Lavano and others. There were other successful business ventures outside of music that Dante’ spearheaded, but his spirit wasn’t fulfilled. After introspection, he felt that what would satiate his artistic expression would be making records as an artist.
“I’m constantly tangled up in multiple projects. One day I said to myself, ‘What do I really want to do? What will bring me the most joy?’ The answer was music. Instead of dropping everything and start chasing gigs, I decided to create a record and put myself out to the world through music,” said Dante’, who plays soprano sax throughout “Mint” with the exceptions being an alto sax on two songs: “Kansai Groove” and “Before We Begin.”
He knew his first single had to be “something fun to get people moving,” introducing his sound – a fusion of contemporary jazz, soul, funk and pop – with the help of an established hitmaker. Dante’ tapped fellow saxophonist and chart-topping artist-producer-songwriter Darren Rahn to craft the track “Vibin’ Out.”
Dante’ co-wrote all of the original songs for “Mint,” writing half the tunes with Grammy and Emmy nominee Rex Salas (Janet Jackson, Vanessa Williams, Boyz II Men). “I owe a lot to Rex because he gave me my first shot and believed in me when no one else did.”
The melodies and rhythms on the session were played by an accomplished crew consisting of guitarists Darrell Crooks and Allen Hinds; keyboardists and programmers Rahn, Greg Manning and Daniel “Doc Junya” Hargrove; bassists Anthony Crawford, Nate Kearney and Mel Brown; and drummers Eric Valentine, Tarell Martin and Nate Barns. Dante’ produced “Mint” with Manning, who co-wrote and plays piano on the Japanese tinged, New Jack Swing cut “Kansai Groove.”
The album’s lone cover is Daniel Caesar and H.E.R.’s “Best Part,” which Dante’ re-envisions as an atmospheric instrumental.
“I would say the best part of doing this record is the fact that I got to learn a lot about the process to the point where I could help someone else make a record. I’m a jack of all trades and I learn very quickly. Add to that the fact that I had access to some of the best talent in the business, which made everything possible. Watching and learning how they do what they do was priceless,” said the Los Angeles-based Dante’.
“Lately, I have been trying to focus on fewer things and doing them well instead for doing lots of things and overlooking fine details. With ‘Mint,’ I really focused and made sure I had the right people on my team to execute every component of the record. It was a lot of trial and error, but in the end, I came out with a project that I am very proud of.”