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Dena DeRose continues to dazzle in the simplest waysshe's a gifted and accomplished pianist, vocalist, composer and arranger but there's not a speck of self-importance or pretension as she joyously makes her way through new and old tunes. Her voice has the timbre and range of an Anita O'Day but there's a fresh, clear-headed quality here that speaks of self-confidence. Bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson play in the trio of pianist Bill Mays, and bring that same level of sterling artistry to this date.
DeRose opens, swinging dark and sweet, on the Kurt Weill classic "Speak Low," setting the tone for the fun-loving side of the evening. The lyrics are bittersweet but DeRose and friends are not about to get hooked by the darkness. They're so relaxed that they seem to celebrate even things that end too soon. The trio also has fun with Cole Porter's darkly humorous "Get Out of Town," with Wilson's clankingly assertive drumming and some state-of-the-art jazz piano, DeRose taking a beautifully clear solo with natural swing, rich harmonies and a propulsive, forward-moving drive.
One of the album's many high points is the poignantly brief original "A Table Set for Solitude" by pianist Rob Bargad, with lyrics by his wife Adena. The tune is almost all-introductory verse and is over before we know it, but DeRose's deliciously sensitive vocal is painfully intimate and utterly gorgeous.
On the Cahn/Styne gem "I Fall in Love Too Easily," DeRose lays off the piano but her almost smoky, no-nonsense vocal is surrounded by Joel Frahm's breathy tenor sax and insistent notes by Wind and colorful fills by Wilson.
"Lover" closes the show with an Erroll Garner-like piano behind those wonderful Rodgers-Hart lyrics. The tune then moves into some more delicate shading with DeRose soaring over the bass and drum colorings and her own deft piano work. Her solo is a model of intelligence and swing, revealing a whole array of feeling and motion in a few choruses.
Track Listing: Speak Low; This Is Love; Get Out Of Town; A Table Set For; Solitude; It Could Happen To You; Alone Together; Green Dolphin Street; I Fall In Love Too Easily; Lover.
Personnel: Dena DeRose: piano, vocals; Martin Wind: bass; Matt Wilson: drums; Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.