”Dial 251 is a crisp, cohesive unit with gifted soloists and a great deal to say,” wrote reviewer Michael J. West in The Washington Post after the band recently performed an “ambitious and rewarding show” at Twins Jazz. Matt Goldberg, a frequent contributor to Just Jazz Guitar magazine, agrees: “Dial 251 has rapidly emerged as one of the best new jazz groups in the region.”
The quintet, which plays hard bop in the style of the Jazz Messengers, features Matt Leonhardt (piano), Bryan McEntire (tenor sax), Greg Reaves (drums), Jon Steele (bass), and Charles Whalen (trumpet).
Matthew Leonhardt (keyboards) served as pianist and arranger for the U.S. Marine Forces Pacific Band; he is from the Midwest, and holds a university degree in music composition.
Bryan McEntire (saxophone) has performed at major jazz festivals in the United States and Europe; he is from the Pacific Northwest, and holds an undergraduate degree in music and a graduate degree in jazz studies.
Jon Steele (bass) is one of the most in-demand bassists in the DC area; he is from the Southeast, and holds an undergraduate degree in studio music/jazz and a graduate degree in double bass performance. His first album as a band leader, Decades, was released in 2016.
Greg Reaves (drums), who grew up in the South, has played in the DC metropolitan area for many years with various jazz, reggae, R&B, and gospel groups and artists.
Charles Whalen (trumpet) grew up in the Northeast, studied in the Southwest, and founded founded Dial 251 in Washington, DC.
The band’s name:
“Dial 251” (aka “Dial 251 for Jazz”) is a nod to the 200-series of Dial Records, which featured progressive artists of the modern jazz era including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, and Max Roach. The name serves as a reminder of the roots and the incessantly innovative spirit of postwar jazz.