|Dena DeRose (2001)|
|It's no small accomplishment to be thought of as "The most creative and compelling singer-pianist since Shirley Horn", but that's exactly how Joel Siegel of the Washington City Paper described Dena DeRose. If she comes to your city and you want to catch the show, go early, because the room is going to be packed. She not only awes her audiences and music critics with her facility on the piano and her vocal talent, but, as Richard Scheinin of the San Jose Mercury aptly put it, "....she exudes joy.....what soul!"
Dena and her trio (Martin Wind on bass and Matt Wilson on drums) have developed a hard-swinging and dynamic sound that audiences crave, and have accumulated a list of performance credits that proves it. From the legendary Blue Note, Smoke and the Jazz Standard in New York, Jazz Alley in Seattle, and the Kennedy Center in DC to Body and Soul in Tokyo, The Jazz Center in Istanbul, and Alexander Platz in Rome, they always deliver "....vivid and often exciting demonstrations of how innovative her musical concepts are..." (Philip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner). Dena has brought that vitality and innovation to performances alongside the likes of Ray Brown, Clark Terry, Marian McPartland, Benny Golson, Ken Peplowski, Phil Woods, David 'Fathead' Newman, Rufus Reid, Mark Murphy, Slide Hampton and many, many others, and numerous jazz festivals worldwide have had Dena on their roster, including Monterey, Kansas City Jazz and Blues, Sarasota, San Francisco and Litchfield in the U.S., the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Israel, the Ancona Jazz Festival in Italy.
As a recording artist, Dena has 6 CDs as a leader to her credit, all of which have received superior accolades. Cadence Magazine gave her both their Album of the Year and Best Vocal Jazz Album awards for "Another World" and "I Can See Clearly Now". Christopher Louden of Jazz Times says that the MaxJazz label ".....takes another big leap forward" with the release of "A Walk In The Park". It also received three Grammy considerations.
Dena's new recording for Maxjazz "The Dena DeRose Trio-Live at Jazz Standard-Volume 1" garnered a '4 star' review in Downbeat Magazine by writer Fred Bouchard with him saying that "Double threat DeRose is an energetic pianist and an ebullient vocalist – crowned with a rakish tiara of piano/vocal scat" and "DeRose holds court... pouring potent cocktails of freshened standards laced with wise and sensitive original ballads". Writer Donald Elfman in All About Jazz writes "...there's not a speck of self-importance or pretension as DeRose joyously makes her way through new and old tunes... her voice has a fresh, clear-headed quality that speaks of self-confidence".
Astoundingly, Dena has also found time to hone her skills as a jazz educator, and has been on the faculty at some prestigious education venues, including the New School and Purchase College in New York, and The Hartt School of Music in Connecticut. Ms. DeRose is currently the Head of Jazz Vocal Department at The University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Graz, Austria and has been teaching at the Prince Claus Conservatory of Music in The Netherlands for the past 7 years. She frequently teaches at clinics and workshops, such as the Dave Brubeck Institute in Oakland, CA, The Jazz School in Berkeley, CA, the NJPAC Jazz for Teens Program, the Stanford Jazz Workshop, and the Rotterdam Summer Jazz School. She has served as a judge at both the Thelonious Monk Competition and the NJ Star Ledger Scholarship Awards.
In 2000, Terry Teachout of the New York Times wrote, "Dena DeRose sings jazz as if she had been at it her whole life long, and then some". He was closer to the truth than he might have imagined. Her mother heard her picking out melodies on a toy organ when she was three. She studied classical piano throughout her childhood, until she was enticed into the world of jazz by playing Count Basie's music in her junior high stage band. At 17, she found Doug Beardsley, the only jazz teacher in hometown Binghamton, and started lessons.
By the time she went to college, the passion for jazz she now exudes was fully evident. She was performing anywhere she could, taking on private students, and practicing so many hours a day that sometimes she would sleep in her studio. To feed her insatiable jazz appetite, she would slip away from campus and drive four hours to New York City to hear piano idols Hank Jones, Mulgrew Miller and Kenny Barron.
It is a rare music career that isn't peppered with challenges and obstacles, and Dena's is no exception--her jazz fervor led her right into a case of carpal tunnel syndrome, aggravated by arthritis, which was severe enough to require surgery, and forced her to completely give up the piano. With her spirit and her livelihood both in jeopardy, in a club one night, someone dared her to get up and sing a song. She did it, she liked it, and so did the audience. Dena had not only found her ticket out of the physical predicament, but, two years later when she had recovered enough to add piano back into the act, she also discovered that the singing had helped her add lyricism and melody to her piano lines.
In 1991, she brought the whole package to New York. Some ten years later, having never let up in the meantime, Dena's talent began to be widely acclaimed. In addition to the Cadence magazine awards for her recordings, she was selected by Downbeat's Critic's Poll as 2002, 2003 and 2006's "Artist Deserving Wider Recognition", and All About Jazz anointed her as a Jazz Artist of the Year in 2003 and Best Jazz Album of 2007. She was featured on the Morning Edition program on National Public Radio, and twice on NPR's "Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz". As her renown spread to the international scene, feature articles and reviews on Dena were published in the New York Times, Downbeat, Jazz Times, LA Times, Seattle Times, Jazz Is, France's Jazz Hot, Italy's Ancona, and several others.
Now, Dena is making Don Heckman's (LA Times) prediction come true - that she "...has all the vocal skills needed to rise to the top level of her field". She is in demand, her passion is stronger and more visible than ever, and she consistently delights her ever-growing worldwide audiences. Alan Bargebuhr of Cadence magazine succinctly summed up the reason why....simply, she is a "...stunningly talented pianist/vocalist."
Other new releases in 2007 include: "The Nearness of Two" (GoFour), a live duo concert recorded in Ancona, Italy with trumpeter Marvin Stamm; a group effort recording called "A Night in Claremont" (Vega) with drummer , bassist Ray Drummond, tenor man Dave Ellis, and highlights DeRose as a pianist, composer, and vocalist.
|# 1||Shirley Horn||Here's to Life||You're Nearer||(Verve Gitanes)|
|# 2||Miles Davis||Birth of the Cool||Moon Dreams||(Capitol)|
|# 3||Mary Lou Williams||1944||Lullaby of the Leaves||(Classics)|
|# 4||Astrud Gilberto||Verve Jazz Masters 9||Agua de Beber||(Verve)|
|# 5||Maria Callas||La Divina, # 2||Donde Lieta Usci al Tuo Grido from Giacomo Puccini's "La Bohème"||(EMI)|
|# 6||Richard Bona||Scenes from My Life||One Minute||(Sony)|
|# 7||Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers||Moanin'||Are You Real?||(Blue Note)|
|# 8||Chick Corea||Blue Mitchell's The Thing to Do||Chick's Tune||(Blue Note)|
|Book||Hazrat Inayat Khan, "The Mysticism of Music, Sound and Word"|
|Luxury Item||A coffee maker|
|Alternate Picks/Not Broadcast|
|Alt 1||Miles Davis||Steamin'||The Surrey with the Fringe on the Top||(Columbia)|
Ron E. Beck