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Denise Donatelli: When Lights are Low (2010)

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Denise Donatelli: When Lights are Low How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Commanding a soothing, lush voice capable of tenderizing the lyrics of any song, Denise Donatelli does a wonderful job on When Light are Low, a collaboration with friend and musical director Geoffrey Keezer
Geoffrey Keezer
Geoffrey Keezer
b.1970
keyboard
. The album has received two Grammy nominations, one of which is for "Best Vocal Jazz Album," leaving no doubt that this is indeed an exceptional recording. The other Grammy nod is for "Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying A Vocalist," for Keezer's arrangement of Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
1915 - 1959
vocalist
's classic, "Don't Explain."

Iin addition to producing and arranging, Keezer also performs on piano, and crafts a variety of instrumental combinations in support of Donatelli, including trumpet , saxophone and rhythm section; a vocal choir; guitar and percussion; solo piano; and string quintet. Fronting a quartet featuring guitarist Peter Sprague
Peter Sprague
Peter Sprague
b.1955
guitar
, Donatelli kicks the music off with a swinging rendition of "It's You or No One," spicing it up with some appreciable scatting. On "Don't Explain," the vocalist shows her softer side, emotionally delivering its lyrics, with Sprague and guest flugelhonist Ingrid Jensen
Ingrid Jensen
Ingrid Jensen
b.1966
trumpet
providing splendid accompaniment.

The title track is especially brilliant, surrendering an outstanding sound that features Ron Blake
Ron Blake
Ron Blake
b.1965
saxophone
on a series of burnished tenor solos. The strings and background vocals come to the forefront on Sting's pop song "Big Lie, Small World," while Keezer and Donatelli perform a delicious duet on "Why Did I Choose You," perhaps a reference as to why these two are such a sparkling musical force. "The Telephone Song," sung as a bossa, delivers a nice buzz and features Sprague, and Jon Wikan on pandeiro. Other notable tracks include "Forward, Like So" and Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton
1934 - 2013
piano
's "Enchantment (Firm Roots)," wrapping up a special album from a special vocalist.

The Keezer-Donatelli collaboration proves to be a winning combination once again as the Grammy attention about When Lights are Low most certainly affirms. There are no low lights here, as Denise Donatelli's star continues to rise and, with this recording, shine brightly.

Track Listing: It's You or No One; Don't Explain; When Lights are Low; Big Lie, Small World; Why Did I Choose You; I Wish I Were In Love Again; Kisses (Cantor da noite); Forward, Like So; The Telephone Song; The Bed I Made; Enchantment (Firm Roots).

Personnel: Denise Donatelli: vocals; Geoffrey Keezer: piano, Fender Rhodes; Peter Sprague: guitar; Hamilton Price: bass; Jon Wikan: drums, percussion, pandeiro ( 9 ); Susan Wulf: double bass (2, 7); Giovani Clayton: cello (2, 7); Rolando Kato: viola (2, 7) ; Alma Lisa Fernandez: viola (2, 7) ; Matthew Duckles: viola (2, 7) ; Julia Dollison: vocals (4, 10); Kerry Marsh: vocals (4, 10); Ingred Jensen: flugelhorn (2); Phil O'Connor: bass clarinet (4, 10); Ron Blake: tenor saxophone (3), soprano saxophone (7).

Record Label: Savant Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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