392

Denise La Grassa: April Dreams

Matthew Warnock By

Sign in to view read count
Denise La Grassa: April Dreams April Dreams is a sultry album of original pop/jazz vocal compositions by Illinois-based singer Denise La Grassa. Featuring the solid rhythm-section work of guitarist Scott Tipping, bassist Matt Thompson, drummer Gerald Dowd and pianist Ben Lewis, the album is both tasteful and emotionally engaging. With catchy melodies, a strong ensemble performance and well-written lyrics, April Dreams weaves its way through the entire spectrum of modern pop/jazz in a highly entertaining fashion.

All of its songs, with the exception of one, were written by the multi-talented La Grassa and arranged by Matt Thompson, the ensemble's bassist. La Grassa's writing style is a direct reflection of the multitude of influences and inspirations that she draws upon as a performer. There are Beatles-esque numbers such as "Get Home & Give Me Love," deep-grooving bluesy numbers that would make Leonard Cohen proud such as "Deep Down Love," and emotional ballads including Matt Kanelos'"String of a Kite," which features a softly spoken groove in five that accentuates La Grassa's smooth vocal line. Thompson's arrangements are firmly based in the American pop tradition with just enough jazz, blues and soul to keep things from becoming monotonous. His use of strings on "April Dreams" and the seldom-used baritone guitar on "Best Day" add just the right timbre, highlighting La Grassa's vocal ability without getting in the way or burying the melody line in a mountain of sound.

La Grassa's melodic interpretations bring an emotional connection to each lyric and melody line, while her ability to make large melodic leaps with ease—with spot-on intonation—provide for some very interesting melody lines, often more reminiscent of a saxophone or guitar than a vocalist. One reason why the album avoids any stagnation is La Grassa's constantly changing vocal tone and timbre: she moves between dark and sultry to light and breathy, and everything in between, with the greatest of ease and without sounding disjointed or unrelated.

April Dreams is entertaining on emotional and musical levels. The lyrics are masterfully crafted, the melodies sticky and the band tight. While the album is not going to fall into the modern or traditional jazz categories, the mixture of jazz, pop, blues and folk is a catalyst for highly creative and emotionally charged playing.


Track Listing: Get Home & Give Me Love; April Dreams; Deep Down Love; Yesterday's Replay; Best Day; Sweet Talk; Perfect Little Girl; Waited a Lifetime; String of a Kite; Loving for Loves Sake.

Personnel: Denise La Grassa: vocals; Scott Tipping: guitar & baritone guitar; Ben Lewis: keyboards; Gerald Dowd: drums; Matt Thompson: bass; Clifford Bivins: keyboard & guitar.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Vocal


Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Peace" CD/LP/Track Review Peace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 18, 2017
Read "Goin' Your Way" CD/LP/Track Review Goin' Your Way
by Doug Collette
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Montréal" CD/LP/Track Review Montréal
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Eternally Even" CD/LP/Track Review Eternally Even
by Doug Collette
Published: November 5, 2016
Read "Times and Tides" CD/LP/Track Review Times and Tides
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Routes" CD/LP/Track Review Routes
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!