Without fear of sinking into the depths of hyperbole, let it be said that Dena DeRose is really a major discovery. An extremely adept pianist and an equally compelling singer, she has the appeal and talent to run with the best of them, including giving modern day diva Diana Krall a good run for her money! Another World
is her second date as a leader for Sharp Nine and although this reviewer hasn't experienced her debut, there's no doubt that this mature statement probably exceeds its predecessor.
The focus here is on some very tasty standards, with Bob Bargad's title track and DeRose's own "Don't Go" thrown in for good measure. However, where the connotation of a standards-dominated set is usually one of on-the-spot and lackluster arrangements, much thought has gone into the settings given to these tunes. DeRose provides the rhythm arrangements and trombone man Steve Davis takes care of the majority of the horn charts. For a typical example of freshness of approach, take the Latinized treatment of "Spring is Here", which also happens to be the album's centerpiece. DeRose's delivery of the lyrics convey the melancholy and dejected sentiment that is expressed in such statements as "Spring is here, why doesn't my heart go dancing, maybe it's because nobody needs me." Then the mood changes and DeRose's animated piano gives way to Davis's spirited trombone romp and by the end everyone has had so much fun that you can literally hear shouts of "yeah" and laughter in the studio.
So while DeRose hits you with those golden pipes of hers, you also find yourself shaking your head in amazement when she presents piano trio versions of Jaki Byard's "Hi-Fly" and Benny Golson's "Whisper Not." She has chops to burn and her treatments of these well-known chestnuts again avoid the obvious and routine. It all adds up to a very impressive set that will catch the ears of those who's tastes in jazz include Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and other pop-inflected stylists. But there's also a lot here that will serve as sustenance for the jazz connoisseur.
Personnel: Dena DeRose, piano and vocals; Steve Wilson, alto and soprano sax; Steve Davis, trombone; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet and flugelhorn; Dwayne Burno, bass; Mark Taylor, drums; Daniel Sadownick, percussion
Track Listing: You Don't Know What Love Is, In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning, More Than You Know, Hi-Fly, You've Changed, Spring is Here, Don't Go, Whisper Not, Another World, Beautiful Friendship