Dena Derose

Love's Holiday
(Sharp Nine Records; 2002)

TRACKS:


More About Love's Holiday

To those who have seen Dena DeRose perform, it is immediately apparent that she is a compelling singer and pianist. What is not so obvious is the fact that she also arranges and often composes the tunes she performs. here Dena discusses some of the thoughts and considerations that went into five of the peformances on this recording; four classic American songbook tunes and one of her original compositions.

In general, I try to interpret a tune by examining the relationship between its melodic/harmonic structure and the meaning of the lyric --- filtered, of course through my life experiences.

For instance, the treatment of I Thought About You (which is based on the original idea of my very good friend, bassist Michael Zisman) starts in the relative minor key for the first eight bars, and then goes to the usual changes for the last eight bars of each section of the tune. Altering the harmony in this way hightlights the implied movement between the past and the present and helps tell the story of the lyric from a different perspective. I hadn't done this tune for years, because the nromal treatment struck me as too pat --- there was something in the lyric that was not coming through. But playing it is way seems more natural and satisfying.

I Didn't Know What Time It Was is a good example of a tune I've known for years and yet always felt that something was missing when I performed it. I try to do tunes that relate to me and I guess I didn't know what time it was. I think I do, now...

There are a couple of arranging details that I think add to the tune. On the second A section, where the lyric is "warm like the month of May," I voice the horns in fifths, moving in parallel motion with the changes, because two horns playing in fifths creates such a warm sound, and reminds me of the warmth and promise of spring...

The irony here is that I don't usually sing verses, because they never really seem to work for me. In this case, I'm doing the tune specifically because of the verse. The way the verse connects with the entire story of the lyric now pertains so directly to my life that the tune has become very meaningful to me.

I also love the great feeling of swing we develop on this one. That sensation of swinging so hard you want to burst is one of the greatest feelings in jazz, and here it reflects the optimism and joy contained in Lorenz Hart's lyrics. Peter Washington's hard-pulling beat, and Jim's ripping solo, followed by Stevie D's lighter, joyously romping half-chorus, create such a happy feeling! Then, just so no one could possibly miss what we're talking about, i modulate up a whole half step at the ninth bar after the bridge. What can I say? It's a great thing to "know what time is!"



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