Pianist/vocalist Dena DeRose debuted on MaxJazz in 2005 with her well received A Walk in the Park. Now the label has put her into an appropriate live setting in New York City's Jazz Standard with bassist Martin Wind, uber-drummer Matt Wilson (both on A Walk in the Park), and NYC mainstay saxophonist Joel Frahm blowing through for one selection.
Dena DeRose is the member of a Jazz Senate comprised of musicians who are both pianists and vocalists. This Senate includes the likes of Patricia Barber, Diana Krall, Norah Jones, Patti Wicks, the late Shirley Horn, and Christine Hitt. Of this rarified set of musicians, DeRose exerts the most muscular and assertive performance. Her piano playing perfectly balances her beautifully balanced alto which possesses a confident and compelling vocal delivery that lets the listener know she is in control. Live at The Jazz Standard, is her strongest offering yet.
Performing in the comfortable piano trio format, DeRose proves quite at home. Wind and Wilson fill out a potent rhythm section, one that proves necessary to keep up with the athletic playing of the pianist. For the live recording, DeRose has assembled an eclectic group of songs ranging from Duke Ellington's "The Lone Ones" to John Lennon's iconic "Imagine." Also included are several DeRose originals that prove her more a formidable composer than many of her peers. Here, she concentrates on standards, save for her composition, "This is Love" with Philippe Petrucciani.
"Speak Low" begins the show on an upbeat note that is maintained to the end. DeRose has an expansive personality that is readily revealed in her singing and no-nonsense soloing. Cole Porter's "Get Out of Town" is sung with punch and verve. The stripped down context of the piano trio, one particularly driven by the pianist-vocalist adds a dimension to the enjoyment as DeRose is fully engaged in the music making. DeRose has mastered this aspect of jazz performance and her piano playing and soloing have continued to improve throughout her career. One of the good things about the MaxJazz series Live at the Jazz Standard is that we can hopefully expect Volume 2 from DeRose.
Personnel: Dena DeRose: piano, vocals; Martin Wind: bass; Matt Wilson: drums; Joel Frahm: Tenor Saxophone.