Denise Donatelli at Mezzrow

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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Denise Donatelli with Geoffrey Keezer Keezer and Ron Blake
New York, NY
January 7, 2019

The intimate vibe at Club Mezzrow is hands-down the perfect musical playground for the versatile talents of Denise Donatelli, Geoffrey Keezer and Ron Blake—the skills of which were eminently displayed during the trio's opening set last evening.

Ms. Donatelli yet again demonstrated that she is a vastly talented and engaging vocal artist—one who absolutely revels in such cozy environs. Brilliantly framed by Grammy-winning pianist, Geoff Keezer and superb saxophonist, Ron Blake, the trio wowed the enthralled packed house—some of whom were well-known artists making the scene. That's no surprise, as Donatelli is indeed a singer's singer.

Benny Golson's "Stablemates"—warm-up wit?—had Keezer and Blake launching into an intense jazz joust where each offered endless rhythmic and creative fire-ribbons. The multiple-time Grammy nominated Donatelli then followed with a seductive offering of "When Lights Are Low" followed by a swinging send-up of "It You or No One."

Throughout the evening, Donatelli displayed a vocal instrument of supreme taste, texture, swing and flawless diction. She understands the poetic currency and potency of a lyric. Her subtle mic technique adds to the flavor. Those and other skills were evident on her take on Ivan Lins' "Kisses" ("Cantor Da Noite") where Donatelli caressed Alan and Marilyn Bergman's lush lines

Keezer, certainly a technical phenom, dazzled the audience and his mates with fierce, creatively intense solos. His solo style relied heavily on his vast technical skills and ability to rhythmically tear things apart and meld them together again magically. His comp support of Donatelli never intruded. Blake was also masterful with deeply intense solo forays on tenor and soprano. The ensemble itself worked trio en uno. The set's closer, "My Shining Hour" was indeed Donatelli's. A highlight there was her dead-on unison scat solo break with Blake.

At one point Ms. Donatelli inquired of Keezer, "How are we doing on time?" For those who caught this performance, we wished he would have responded: "Keep singing. We've got all night."

A bravura performance in every regard.

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