Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vocal CD of the Month - "Denise Donatelli: When Lights Are Low"

Vocal CD of the Month
Denise Donatelli: "When Lights Are Low" (Savant) 2010

Featuring: Geoffrey Keezer, Peter Sprague, Hamilton Price, Jon Wikan, Ron Blake, Ingrid Jansen et al.
A superb singer -- gifted with a warm voice, wonderful tone, unlimited creativity of phrasing -- backed by great musicians, performing a top-class repertoire magnificently arranged by producer/musical director/pianist Geoffrey Keezer. Who could ask for more?
My personal favorite tracks: "It's You or No One" (a killer up-tempo opener), "Why Did I Choose You?" (a haunting ballad in duo with Keezer's acoustic piano), Cedar Walton's "Enchantment" (aka "Firm Roots," featuring a fabulous solo by guitarist Peter Sprague), and "I Wish I Were In Love Again."
But there are many more to savour on this tremendously attractive set (released on Joe Field's Savant label), including the title track, Benny Carter's "When Lights Are Low." For decades, "When Lights are Low" was the title of one of Tony Bennett's cultest albums, a jazzy date with no orchestra, just the Ralph Sharon Trio. Denise's version is in the same high level.
It's also worth to mention the variety of "musical colors," due to the imaginative scores that range from "simple" arrangements (like on Roberto Menescal's "The Telephone Song," originally introduced to American audiences by Astrud Gilberto during her early days as a vocalist for Stan Getz, and revisited here with Denise backed only by acoustic guitar and pandeiro) and some very sophisticated ones, with larger instrumentation (Billie Holiday/Arthur Herzog's somber lament, "Don't Explain.")
This album made the Grammy Entry List and deserves to be among the finalists.

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