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Maaike den Dunnen is a Dutch singer-songwriter with an exuberant and confident voice. On this CD, backed by a tight trio, she shows how powerfully she can come across both on joyous jazz-funk tunes and dreamy art songs.
This contrast is demonstrated in the first two tracks. On "Nature's Call" Dunnen's voice dances over Thomas Kugi's funky tenor sax while on "The Deep" her clear resonant sound mixes with Dena DeRose's insistent piano like Norma Winstone and John Taylor paired up in their old group, Azimuth. She continues to go down both paths throughout the album, sounding lively on the bouncy samba of "The Gambler," sultry on the sleek pop-jazz of "Ground Control" and sassy on the gritty soul-funk of "Over And Done With," where DeRose's organ and Kugi's tenor really burn behind her.
Dunnen's voice shines even more on delicate numbers like "There Once More" where her singing slowly leans into a plush cushion of tenor and electric piano. "Can't Help Falling In Love" is sung slowly against a haunting blend of sax, bass, organ and piano and "All Inside Your Heart" is a lovely piece of subdued melancholy with DeRose's cascading piano as the main support. On "A Sea Of Waves" Dunnen soars above the swooping musical accompaniment while Milan Nikolic's bass guitar takes a diving solo. And just to prove she can sing true jazz, Dunnen also throws in a carefree, swinging duet with Kugi's tenor on "On The Sunny Side Of The Street."
This set sounds unique in part because of the backing instrumentation. The combination of piano, saxophone and bass guitar with no drums gives a light, weightless feel to the music which suits the buoyancy of Dunnen's voice. The slower pieces sound more intimate and on the grooving ones, Nikolic's bass guitar carries enough weight to take care of the rhythm by itself. This CD shows Maaike den Dunnen to be an imaginative singer with a versatile voice who can sound very good in a number of differing settings.
Track Listing: Nature's Call; The Deep; There Once More; The Gambler; Can't Help Falling In Love; You Give Me Something; Ground Control;
On The Sunny Side Of The Street; A Sea Of Waves; All Inside Your Heart; Over And Done With.
Personnel: Maaike den Dunnen: vocals; Thomas Kugi: tenor and soprano saxophone; Dena DeRose: piano, Fender Rhodes, synths; Milan
Nikolic: bass guitar.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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