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Denise Donatelli: Find a Heart

Edward Blanco By

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Multi Grammy nominee vocalist Denise Donatelli, unveils another gem of an album with the much-anticipated Find A Heart, collaborating once again with producer/arranger, pianist Geoffrey Keezer documenting a surprisingly new direction for the singer as she ventures into the non-standards area. The Great American Songbook will always be with us, here to stay forever as new re-interpretations of classics emerge every day. This project finds the vocalist and pianist exploring new territory as they take the music of modern pop and jazz masters like Sting, David Crosby and Russell Ferrante among others, and ask the question, Isn't it time for new standards?

One thing clearly evident on this album is, the superb cast of players that make the instrumentation such a pleasure to hear which features an all-star personnel listing that includes Brazilian guitarist Leonardo Amuedo, Cuban bassist Carlitos del Puerto, drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith and Canadian saxophonist Christine Jensen among them. The evolution of The Great American Songbook begins with the Donald Fagen composition "Big Noise, New York" featuring an opening blast from saxophonist great Bob Sheppard before the sparkling vocals of the leader take over on what is a burning beginning to a heck of an album.

The singer finds her softer side on Ferrante's beautiful love ballad, "Love and Paris Rain" with a little help from guitarist Amuedo then jumps into a lively tempo on Keezer's own "Spaced Out (En Babia)" before returning to a gentler mood on the absolutely gorgeous "Practical Arrangement" accompanied by the magic horn of Chris Botti and the soft guitar work from Amuedo. Keezer's arrangement of the Crosby title track, turns this pop tune into a true jazz number with a touch of the Latin flavor.

Keezer and Donatelli draw on a small string section of cello and violas to convey the trials and tribulations of a "Troubled Child" and call on bassist del Puerto and percussionist Walter Rodriguez to weigh in with brisk haunting solos as the singer's crisp voice reaches and beckons the child with a little help of background vocalists Yutaka Yokokura, and Julia Dollison.

Interestingly enough, while the mission of this venture is still, to offer different songs from more recent times as possible new standards for the future, Donatelli closes the album with heartfelt emotion paying humble respect to current standards with superior renditions of "Midnight Sun," and Billy Strayhorn's "Day Dream." Find A Heart is simply put, an outstanding vocal recording that takes Denise Donatelli's performance to another level.

Track Listing: Big Noise, New York; Love and Paris Rain; Spaced Out (En Babia); Practical Arrangement; Find a Heart: Not Like This; Eyes That Say I Love You; In This Moment; Troubled child; Midnight Sun; Day Dream.

Personnel: Denise Donatelli: vocals; Geoffrey Keezer: piano, arranger; Leonardo Amuedo: guitar; Carlito Del Puerto: bass; Marvin "Smitty" Smith: drums; Walter Rodriquez: percussion; Chris Botti: trumpet; Bob Sheppard: tenor saxophone; Christine Jensen: soprano saxophone; Michael Thompson; guitar; Giovanna Clayton; cello; Alma Fernandez: viola; Matt funes: viola; Darrin McCann: viola; Yutaka Yokokura: background vocals; Sy Smith: background vocals; Julia Dollison: background vocals.

Title: Find a Heart | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Savant Records

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