Desert Island Jazz
Dee Bell (2012)

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(Photo by Russ Fischella)

Those who, unlike Dee Bell, aren't from Indiana are never quite sure that "Hoosier" can be used in polite company—or is even a real word. But Dee can assure you that it is real, that it's OK for grandma to hear, and that Indiana has lots of Hoosier-thises and Hoosier-thats. One of them is the Hoosier National Forest, which in a way is responsible for Dee's becoming a singer.

After a relatively conventional upbringing, both musically (musical family, clarinet and dulcimer at an early age, vocal and instrumental groups) and generally (Indiana University, first pre-med, then art), Dee did the unconventional by living for several years in a cabin in the Hoosier National Forest——a wood stove for heat, no running water, and no telephone. The forest provided an ideal environment in which she could practice singing on the porch without disturbing the neighbors.

Dee has been in the Bay Area since the late 70s, and made her first recording 30 years ago, for Concord Records, with Eddie Duran and Stan Getz—not bad company for a debut!

It's unfortunate for all of us that Dee has put out so few recordings since then. But she's recently issued "Sagacious Grace". It's not a new recording per se: rather, it was recorded 20 years ago, but engineering errors at the time of the recording repeatedly proved impossible to fix, and the project had to be shelved. "Impossible to fix" until, that is, Dee bumped into Bud Spangler, who, among his many talents, knows a thing or two about recording, and offered to intervene. With the help of Dan Feiszli (another Bay Area polymath), "Sagacious Grace" saw the light of day a few months ago. Its excellence reminds us of what a good singer Dee is; and, rather like coming across a photograph of someone we haven't seen for some time, it reminds us of what a great pianist the late Al Plank was.

One recording per decade isn't enough, Dee: more, please!
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 Claus Ogerman Claus Ogerman Featuring Michael Brecker Corfu GRP
# 2 Antonio Carlos Jobim Antonio Carlos Jobim - 20th Century Masters - The Millenium Collection Passarim Universal
# 3 Ivan Lins Saudades de Casa Depois Dos Temporais Warner Bros
# 4 Toninho Horta Diamond Land Waiting for Angela Verve
# 5 Miles Davis Tutu Portia Warner Bros
# 6 Jaye P. Morgan Jaye P. Morgan It All Goes Round Candor
# 7 Wes Montgomery Tequila Midnight Mood Verve
# 8 Dee Bell, with Stan Getz and Eddie Duran Let There Be Love You Must Believe in Spring Concord
         
Book "The Essential Rumi", translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne
         
Luxury Item "The ukulele was an idea, and the Chuck Sher fake books, but I'd be best off with a sloop."
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