Dena Derose


Review From Hartford Courant

A Walk in the Park (MaxJazz)

Crippled by carpal tunnel syndrome and wracked by arthritis, for three years Dena DeRose set aside her fondest dream of becoming a first-rate jazz pianist.

DeRose sought solace in singing, initially a private form of therapy, which has wondrously evolved into a public forum of celebration.

While she was honing her singing craft, surgeries repaired her afflicted right hand and restored her shattered hope of keyboard glory. Now DeRose is a rare talent, swinging hard here both as a pianist and as a singer whose laconic but expressive style is rooted in a keen musical intelligence.

On "Speak Low," her singing is lithe and direct, yet edged with sensitivity. In complementary contrast to her vulnerability, DeRose's piano playing is assertive, crackling with self-assurance and bold ideas.

"On Green Dolphin Street" and "Lover" are among DeRose's finest collaborations with her longtime trio colleagues, Matt Wilson, a drummer for all genres, and bassist Martin Wind.

In a one-shot cameo appearance, Joel Frahm, the noted tenor saxophonist originally from West Hartford, plays gorgeous, inventive accompaniment for DeRose as she muses on "I Fall In Love too Easily."

If only MAXJAZZ were to fall in love too easily with this alluring track and devote an entire album to the simpatico DeRose and Frahm, sensitively backed by Wilson and Wind. It would surely be the Valentine's Day release of the decade.

- Owen McNally

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