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Introducing Dena DeRose by Dena DeRose

Benny Carter’s composition, "When Lights Are Low" is the chosen piece to open this debut recording from vocalist/ pianist Dena DeRose. What an opener it is. Dena approaches it in a funky and uplifting manner displaying her versatility when it comes to phrasing and conveying the mood. Steve Wilson takes a great solo on Alto sax. Dena’s piano is featured as well. Gentle and adding some nice chords, while keeping the pace before returning to vocals. Beautiful.

I don’t think I have ever heard a version of "Where or When" that I liked as much as this one. From the start, this playful arrangement grabs the listener. Dena’s piano introduces her vocal entry. Albert Heath is great on this one. Such a melodic player he is. Beautifully complementing Dena’s approach. Again her piano delivers like a warm wave of Caribbean water. She even has fun with the tempo as well. She literally squeezes every note and emotion out of this one. This seems to be a trademark of hers.

Irving Berlin’s, "Blue Skies" is a sultry walking type arrangement. Dena’s voice only hints and lightly skirts over the main theme. Wispy, light and floating, this is another example of her captivating style. The rest of the band dancing along behind her piano. She takes the melody, makes it her own, and just goes with it to great success.

"Be My Love" is an original from Dena. It’s a touching piece that weaves in and out beautifully. Dena’s warm vocals throughout add a poignant touch. It’s her phrasing and gentleness that are so captivating. She never over does her singing. She locks into the groove, and works within there.

The rest of the CD is enjoyable as well. She is worth many listens.

The fact that Dena gets it right on every number and that this is her debut CD is remarkable. There are many vocalists out there that are able to attain this after making several recordings. She also has a knack for picking great musicians to accompany her. On this recording, everyone has a chance to shine. Michael Zisman and Tootie Heath work well together. Always aware of the moment, and inflecting the right touch at the right time. Steve Wilson’s enticing sax works well with Dena’s voice and piano style.

I get the feeling that Dena has an incredible set of ears, and that she spends much time just listening. Phrasing, and a sense of what and how to play can not only be derived from listening to music alone. Listen to the various sounds around you and you will be intrigued. Dena seems to have captured this quality in spades. The more you listen to her recordings, the more you realize how gifted she is. This is a balanced recording sure to please many ears.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Dena DeRose
  • CD Title: Introducing Dena DeRose
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 1998
  • Record Label: Sharp Nine Records
  • Rating: Five Stars
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