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Dena DeRose: Another World

Joel Roberts By

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The story goes that Dena DeRose took up singing when a hand injury kept her from playing the piano for two years. Today she probably looks on that injury as a blessing, since she has developed into one of the hottest young singer-pianists in jazz.

Like the best jazz singers, from Anita O'Day to Betty Carter to Cassandra Wilson, DeRose is not just a voice on top of a band — she's a fully integrated member of the ensemble; a musician whose instrument, or in DeRose's case, one of her instruments, is her voice. More a stylist than a big-voiced belter, she sings with a musician's appreciation for nuance and timing. She exhibits the same skills as a pianist, using the piano to augment and expand her vocals, and to lend support to her first-rate band.

DeRose puts her personal imprint on every song she sings, even the well-worn chestnuts covered here. She's equally adept at ballads (like the haunting solo version, just piano and voice, of "You've Changed") and high-speed swingers (like the closing cut, "A Beautiful Friendship"). The arrangments leave plenty of room for expressive soloing from saxophonist Steve Wilson, trombonist Steve Davis, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, as well as DeRose herself.

Though the obvious comparison is to Diana Krall, Another World proves that Dena DeRose is really in a class of her own.

Title: Another World | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Sharp Nine Records

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