Dena Derose


Review From Hartford Courant

Live at Jazz Standard, Vol. II (MaxJazz)

Inspired by Carmen McRae's warm, worldly wise expressiveness, pianist/vocalist Dena DeRose sings from deep inside the emotional content of a song's lyrics, most particularly on love songs.

In a variation on the theater and film world's "method acting" technique, she creates convincingly realistic emotions by relating whatever she's singing to her most immediate life experiences.

So, when she wraps her voice and emotions around "I Fall in Love too Easily" or "We'll Be Together Again," you feel that she understands the words profoundly and has lived the experiences they describe. Delivered with style and conviction, her interpretations are graced with a hip, existential edge tempering a lover's angst or heartbreak.

A first-rate jazz pianist, DeRose is also a superb celebrator of joy, life and love as she shows on her stomping trio ode to "Laughing at Life."

Her tight, interactive trio co-features the big-toned bassist Martin Wind and the perpetually inventive drummer Matt Wilson. Trio tracks illuminate "The Ruby and the Pearl" and "When Lights Are Low," and groove on a tour de force, cul de sac free jaunt through "Detour Ahead."

In one enticing stylistic hallmark, DeRose simultaneously sings and plays unison lines on piano, generating a luminous, electrifying almost cosmic sound. Here's a rare singer who can really accompany herself on piano, able to sing and swing and to comp and romp all at the same time.

Essential download: "In Your Own Sweet Way"

- Owen McNally

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