The enthusiast's audio webzine

Dena DeRose, Jazz Chanteuse

From time to time, when the opportunity presents itself, listening to something, or someone new is important to keeping fresh. So it was that when I noted that American jazz singer Dena DeRose was performing at London’s Reform Club, I was sufficiently intrigued to book places for the wife and me. I was not familiar with DeRose, a native of Binghamton, NY and now living in Graz, Austria, where she is currently the Head of the Jazz Vocal Department at The University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria.

Dena DeRose in Concert

Dena DeRose in Concert

DeRose sang and played a gorgeous Steinway concert grand for each song, backed up by a bassist and drummer. This, to me, is the ideal group: the jazz trio. Bill Evans, Bobby Short, Charlie Byrd and a host of others have shown this arrangement to be among the most pure forms of jazz.

The setlist of this short concert was heavy with jazz standards – no bad thing by any means – but also showcased some of DeRose’s own compositions, notably a gorgeous song that she wrote about her house in Graz. Particularly notable was the extended introduction to Blue and Green, during which DeRose alternated between playing the piano normally and playing the piano strings with her fingers, like a harp, while knocking on the frame of the piano to produce her own percussion. Believe me when I say that it sounds better in reality than it sounds when written!

One non-standard was John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which DeRose arranged and performed in the chanteuse style. It sounds bizarre, but it worked.

There was a nice mix of ballads and heavily toe-tapping songs; the concert was over far too soon, the audience very appreciative. DeRose has a friendly air as a performer, and develops excellent rapport with the audience.

I was sufficiently impressed with DeRose’s performance to buy one of her CDs, a Japanese issue called Stars, due to the fact that every title on the album contains the word. Listening and, I expect, a review will follow.


Readers' comments

    If it’s ok to expand this topic to include other not well known female singer/composer jazz artists, I have one who is special to me. Her name is Maria Neckham and the title of her album is Deeper on the Sunnyside label. She has assembled a sextet of Brooklyn based jazz musicians where she lives today. She is originally from Austria by way of an ashram judging from her uplifting lyrics and dedication, I imagine. She has an uncanny ability for what notes go where. If you are a downloader, listen to Fear and note how she blends sustained harmonies with the instrumentalists. I’ve never heard anything quite like it.

  • I failed to mention that this is all original music by the artist and the players. Cheers.

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