Dena Derose


DownBeat Review

A Walk in the Park (MaxJazz)
**** (4 stars)

Terrific twofers among singer/pianists are not common in jazz. Coming to mind are Patricia Barber, Jamie Cullum, Andy Bey, Freddy Cole - and Dena DeRose. Double-threat DeRose is an energetic pianist and ebullient vocalist - crowned with a rakish tiara of piano/voice scat.

With her seven-year courtiers bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson, DeRose holds court at Manhattan's Jazz Standard, pouring potent cocktails of freshened standards laced with wise and sensitive original ballads. "Alone Together" wears a savvy "Love Supreme" vamp and rimshots, as DeRose affirms the upbeat lyrics with a gritty urban realism. The band supports with a swagger under her bright tremololaced lines. She interprets "Green Dolphin Stree" as a light samba - complemented by rim-chatter and brush-strokes - and caresses her melodic variations through delightfully flexible tempo slides.

Wind and Wilson pull and push DeRose to the summit, stoking her penchant for edgy passion and rolling two-fisted climaxes with rare dynamism. "Get Out Of Town," "It Could Happen To You" and "Lover" churn to peaks with DeRose's smash-and-halt four-bar exchanges with Wilson, here simmering hi-hat and snare, there choking splash cymbal. Quite moments hold equal sway, like the slow-burn fade on "Speak Low," (with Wind's bold, echoing solo) and an eerie moment when tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm hits a bone-chilling minor second as DeRose sings the word "fool" on "Lover." (he means "I Fall In Love Too Easily").

- Fred Bouchard

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