Denise Jannah's first album for Blue Note turns out to be a delightful excursion in straight ahead singing fortified by very imaginative, but not off the charts, arrangements played by talented and appreciative backup musicians. Denise Jannah is not new to the singing world, having been in the game for about 10 years. She graduated from the prestigious Hilverstrom Conservatory in Europe and shortly after that made her first album for the Dutch Timeless label. For her Blue Note debut, she has selected a play list of nine standards and three originals. Her original material is a pleasant surprise as they are one of the strengths of the album. And she writes both the words and the music.
It is her way with the standards which test and reveal Jannah's command of the jazz vocal art. These classics from the Great American Songbook allow her to show her vocal versatility and creativity. "`Round Midnight" becomes surrealistic, almost spooky at times, but never disconsolate as is often the interpretative mode for Thelonious Monk's classic. Another ear opening arrangement is "My Favorite Things" where Jannah indulges in some very tasteful scatting as she shifts from vocalizing to trading craggy, accented beats with Carl Allen's drums. "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" is special for her wordless vocalizing and using her voice as an instrument, working in, through, and around Ira Coleman's bass lines giving some freshness to this Romberg and Hammerstein operetta warhorse. Good stuff. "Dearly Beloved" and "Just You, Just Me" demonstrate that Jannah handles up tempo material without becoming frenetic. These tunes retain their bounce while at the same time the beat remains under control. There's some fine piano soloing on these tunes by Bert van den Brink, an accomplished jazz pianist from Holland. Van den Brink not only accompanies and is the musical director for Jannah, but works steadily with another American vocalist of note who has made Europe her home base, Dee Dee Bridgewater. Johnny Mandel's "The Shadow of Your Smile" is given French lyrics coming out as "Le Sourire de Mon Amour" delivered low and sultry spotlight Jannah's sensuous mood.
With a highly-developed middle register, some of the most impeccable phrasing and diction of any singer around, and the ability to use her musical backup to emphasize the finer points of her voice make Denise Jannah one of the most promising vocalists on today's scene. The <|>Madness of our Love> is highly recommended.
TracksDearly Beloved; Wide Awake; Round Midnight; My Favorite Things; The Madness of our Love; Just You, Just Me; Le Sourire de Mon Amour (a.k.a., The Shadow of Your Smile); My Foolish Heart/I Fall in Love too Easily; Softly as in a Morning Sunrise; If Only; Harlem Nocturne; Teach Me TonightPersonnelDenise Jannah - Vocals; Bert van den Brink -Piano; Ira Coleman - Bass; Carl Allen - Drums; Khalil Bell - Shaker