Saturday, September 22, 2012
Review: Dena DeRose- Travelin' Light
I have a villainous reputation among jazz vocalists in Kansas City. My criticism in print and at my jazz blog has dismayed far more artists than it's pleased. I don't hesitate to call out tuneless dilettantes, boorish behavior or dated cliches. I don't subject jazz vocalists to a higher standard. Unfortunately, very few rise to the level of the top instrumentalists. If memory serves, only performances by Marilyn Maye and Dee Dee Bridgewater have received my highest praise.
Word of my supposed bias apparently hasn't reached St. Louis. The St. Louis-based MaxJazz record label sent me a copy of Dena DeRose's new album. I'd only heard of DeRose from mentions at Dean Minderman's St. Louis Jazz Notes. Travelin' Light is my introduction to the artist.
Performing solo in front of a "hand-picked" audience in Antwerp, the album is an astoundingly authoritative statement. DeRose's piano work is very nice and her demure voice conveys worlds of emotion. DeRose references Shirley Horn in the liner notes (housed in the usual premium MaxJazz packaging), and the legend's spare yet emotional approach seems to serve as DeRose's model. "'S Wonderful," "East of the Sun" and "I'm Old Fashioned" aside, the repertoire is fresh. Genuine grown-folks music, the back-to-back selections "Portrait In Black and White" and "Why Did I Choose You?" floored me.
As with the aforementioned Maye, DeRose is more of a cabaret act than a jazz artist. But categories are meaningless when music is this good Travelin' Light is highly recommended to anyone who appreciates Bobby Short, Patricia Barber or the The Tony Bennett / Bill Evans Album.
I guess the staff at MaxJazz knew what it was doing after all.
Delfeayo Marsalis, Sean Jones, Bobby Watson, Richard Johnson, Jeremy Boettcher and Winard Harper thrilled me last night at the Blue Room. Here's my review.
I reviewed Bryan Adams' concert Wednesday at the Uptown Theater.
The main stage lineup Friday at Columbia's Roots n Blues n BBQ- Joe Lovano's Us 5, Rodriguez and Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives- is a There Stands the Glass dream show.
Phil Spector's 1965 appearance on the Merv Griffith show is unreal. (Via JazzWax.)
I like everything about the Empty Spaces' "Holidays Are Nice and Warm".
A KU student wrote a compelling essay about hip hop that explores issues of race, class and technology.
I just learned of Elina Duni. What is this? The Albanian's new album Matanë Malit will be released by ECM in October.
Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here. I also hope to spend at least a couple hours at the Ink Stage at the Plaza Art Fair this weekend.
(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)