(English follows Japanese)
By Takaaki kondo, Tokyo Jazz Review
Donatelliさん。2008年の作品"What Lies Within"のReviewでも書きましたが、Deniseさん、めちゃんこ上手いです！最初に聴いたときGeoffrey Keezerの複雑なアレンジのLineをいとも簡単に歌いあげていて驚きました。しかもDeniseさんが初見で一発で決めたのでKeezer自身も驚いたそうです
さて彼女の4作目となる本作品。先日のThe 55th Grammyの"BEST JAZZ VOCAL ALBUM"にノミネートされました。過去作同様Musical DirectorとしてGeoffrey Keezerが起用されていますが今までの作品とは少々趣が異なります。これまでは「Jazz Standerd曲を斬新なアレンジで聴かせる」方向でしたが、今回は選曲が多彩で秀逸！Popsの良質な曲を取り上げています。D. Reeves/Wayne Shorterの"A Promise"、Joe Sampleの素敵なBrazilian曲、"Soul Shadows"。Christian McBrideとStingのコラボ曲"When I Looked Again"
それで過去の作品で見せたテクニカルな部分が無いかと言うとちゃんとソコも入れている（憎いね）。N. Dawnの"Another Day"でKeezerはGuitarのPeter SpragueとDonatelliさんのユニゾンによるScatを書いているのですが、「もう完璧です」
Carlitos Del Puerto(b,eb)
Sarah Thornblade & Songa Lee(vln)
Alma Lisa Fernandez & Matt Funes(vla)
Susan Wulff(double b)
Yutaka Yokokura(background vo)
1. All or Nothing at All (A. Altman/J. Lawrence)
2. No Better (J. Brooke)
3. Another Day (N. Dawn)
4. A Promise (Someplace Called Where) (D. Reeves/Wayne Shorter)
5. Soul Shadows (J. Sample)
7. Postcards and Messages
8. When I Looked Again (Christian McBride / Sting)
9. Ange (S. Allyson / D. Brown)
10. Too Late Now (B. Lane / Alan Jay Lerner)
❑ Denise Donatelli - Website
❑ Buy CD
A late bloomer due to her focusing on parenthood and an earlier career with CNN, vocalist Denise Donatelli has continued to develop with a depth of feeling and
a broad musical palette open to exploring many styles of jazz. Her fourth CD (and third for Savant) finds her again with pianist/music director Geoff Keezer and guitarist Peter Sprague, with a
supporting cast that varies from track to track. Donatelli puts a new twist on the standard "All or Nothing at All," buoyed by Keezer's catchy, Afro-Peruvian arrangement, and potent solos by
Keezer and acoustic guitarist Ramon Stagnaro. The other standard, "Too Late Now," is a lush duet by Donatelli with Keezer as her sole accompanist, where the vocalist's adept phrasing and use of
space conveys its lyric perfectly. Two songs were penned by jazz veterans. The scoring of Wayne Shorter's "A Promise (Someplace Called Where)" (with a lyric by Dianne Reeves) utilizes strings and
soprano saxophonist Tim Garland to provide an intricate backing for the singer. Donald Brown's "Ange" is a demanding, Brazilian-flavored work which Donatelli performs flawlessly as if it had long
been part of her repertoire. From there, Donatelli expands her scope to contemporary jazz, pop, and works by singer/songwriters. She shows her playful side in the light-hearted "Another Day,"
scatting along with Sprague's guitar, followed by Keezer's spry solo, and takes flight in her hip, Brazilian-tinged rendition of Joe Sample's "Soul Shadows." Donatelli captures the essence of
"When I Looked Again," a collaborative effort by Christian McBride and Sting that was recorded by them but unissued, with effective overdubbed harmony vocals judiciously used in Keezer's
arrangement. With so many jazz vocalists competing for attention, Denise Donatelli easily stands out from the pack with her versatile, creative repertoire and strong voice.
- by Ken Dryden, All Music
L.A. - based vocalist Denise Donatelli received a Grammy nod with her second Savant release, When Lights Are Low. While some would argue the luster of the
Grammy awards is in desperate need of an overhaul much of the same could be said about the release Soul Shadows. When Lights are Low focused on some most inventive reharms of the most iconic pop
standards with jazz sensibilities of our time, Soul Shadows is an eclectic look at vocal jazz straight on with a no frills almost bear bones approach that while solid and accessible, never really
gets off the ground under the musical direction of Geoffrey Keezer. Donatelli is a pure unadorned vocalist that does not need to skate by on runs and vocal pyrotechnics in order to garner
attention or favorable reviews for that matter, a throw back singer in every sense of the word whose use of phrasing, inflection and impeccable timing set her well ahead of the pack. Oh,
she can sing too! Donatelli is reunited with her Music director/accompanist Geoffrey Keezer fresh off the latest Joe Locke release which seemingly went no where only to turn in another release
full of stellar arrangements and reharms of some old favorites that allow Donatelli's talents to continue to soar as she breathes new life into some tunes that many artists had placed in the jazz
witness protection program a long time ago. "All Or Nothing At All" is perhaps the best known standard and clearly starts the release off with an impressive flair which is about where the release
begins and ends. "PostCards and Messages" is a standard waiting in the wings from critically acclaimed vocalist Peter Elderidge while "When I Looked Again" is an obscure tune from Christian
McBride and Sting that has never seen the light of day and for all too obvious reasons. The problem with Soul Shadows may simply be that as compared to When Lights Are Low the release is overly
ambitions. "Postcards And Messages" has writer Peter Eldridge joining in on a lush and rich arrangement of his own song and is in fact one of the three that work the best. "When I Looked Again"
with lyrics by Sting not to mention his kind permission to re-record the song has Sting's signature sound all over the tune. A great many of the songs here have either never been released or
simply not released in the versions included here which on occasion come dangerously close to the self indulgent. Bad? No...Different? Yes...and different is never bad, just different. The talent
here is first call and "A" list without a doubt, the material itself is where the release lacks the staying power of When Lights Are Low. To go from Grammy nod to "polite" nod out of musical
respect is a huge fall from grace. Every critic has their favorites and Donatelli is certainly one of mine making this effort all the more disappointing across the board. Much like Charlie
Brown's Christmas tree, it is not such a bad little album it just needs a little love! When Lights Are Low set the bar so high that virtually anything other than "Part Two" would fail by reasons
of comparison alone.
- @Critical Jazz
Los Angeles based Denise Donatelli is a deep breath of jazz singer fresh air. Far too many female jazz singers (why are there so few men?) are given audiophile recording pulpits from which to ply their mediocre wares. Not so, Donatelli. She’s the real deal. Blessed with a lovely voice that knows how important the melody is, Donatelli can blow with the best, scat (far more rare a gift than you might think), get out of the way when needed, and sing at all times with taste. She’s a keeper for my collection.
Savant Records has cobbled together (different venues for tracks) an audiophile quality recording. True demo quality. Are you reading this review, manufacturers? If you must use yet another female jazz singer at audio shows, Donatelli’s new album Soul Shadows will fit the bill nicely. Mind you, some chamber music, a classical singer (no, not Pavarotti), and some non mainstream, orchestral music would not go amiss!
Back to Soul Shadows. The CD contains nine tracks of repertoire new to me and with a standard to begin the set (All or Nothing at All). Instantly, you’ll recognize the open and detailed recording quality and the superior musicianship enveloping Donatelli’s sexy voice.
Like all great singers, Donatelli surrounds herself with excellence. Her music director, Geoffrey Keezer is a brilliant pianist. His solos swing throughout and are a constant delight. You’ll hear the great percussionist Alex Acuna adding colour and magic to many of the charts. Other solos, by Brit saxophonist Tim Garland on Wayne Shorter’s ‘A Promise’ (phoned in from the UK, but integrated seamlessly into the musical fabric), Ramon Stagnaro, acoustic guitar on the opening standard, and a top notch L.A. session string quartet (plus string bass) also on ‘A Promise’, all sound superb. Everything is so musical.
The star of the show, though, is Donatelli’s voice. More mezzo (even alto, in some instances) than full on soprano, Donatelli phrases the melodies beautifully. The ballad, Christian McBride/Sting’s ‘When I Looked Again’ and the boss nova version of Bill Withers’ ‘Soul Shadows’ are perfect examples of Donatelli’s musical art. The McBride/Sting song was unreleased, so a treat, here.
Other great tracks include the ultra poignant, ‘Too Late Now’, a duet for singer and MD. It’s gorgeous and a suitable finale. ‘Ocean’ is a lilting 12/8 melody over tasteful piano and ‘Postcards and Messages’ by Peter Eldridge of New York Voices adds the songwriter’s voice along with the aforementioned superb string quartet. Wonderful songs, all.
Audiophiles, you can buy this album safe in the knowledge that it will show off (test) your system brilliantly (everyone will be asking you ‘what is that album?’!). And, for civilians, get it for the supreme musicianship by all involved also safe in the knowledge that the melody is King and the musicians are always in service to it.
- by Anthony Kershaw, Adiophilia
Here’s a singer that is unjustly under the radar. Denise Donatelli simply does everything right. Even better, her taste in material is immaculate. Her first record was of standards, but since then, while still including a well known tune here and there (as on an inviting “All Or Nothing At All” here), she ever so wisely veers towards more obscure pieces such as Stings’s & Christian McBride’s “When I Looked Again,” and gives it a warm ember of a glow. Even more intriguing is her take of Wayne Shorter’s “A Promise” that has an almost folk feel to it with the working team of Geoffrey Keezer/p, Peter Sprague/g Carlitos del Puerto/b and Alex Acuna/per being supplemented by a gentle string quartet. The Keezer arrangements on all of the songs are thoughtful and intriguing, as well as the tunes with backing vocals by Yutaka Yokokura on “Postcards and Messages” and the title track. A closing duet with Keezer on “Too Late Now” reveals all you need to know about this lady, as her warm heart is dangling on her sleeve here. If you want something besides Krall and Monheit, give this lady a listen. You won’t be disappointed.
- By George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly
Denise Donatelli, the GRAMMY® nominated and critically acclaimed award winning Savant recording artist, has become one of today’s premiere jazz vocalists. Her 2010 release When Lights are Low — which received two GRAMMY® nominations, one for Best Jazz Vocal Album and another for Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist for pianist and collaborator Geoffrey Keezer for his arrangement of “Don’t Explain” — confirms Denise’s status in the upper echelons of talented and engaging jazz artists in the country and internationally. Denise’s four recordings, Soul Shadows (Savant Records, September 2012), When Lights are Low (Savant Records 2010), What Lies Within (Savant Records 2008), and In the Company of Friends (Jazzed Media 2005), have consistently topped the National Jazz Week radio charts. Her GRAMMY® Nominated recording When Lights are Low peaked at #2 and remained on the chart for 23 weeks. It resurfaced 28 weeks later where it remained for another 7 weeks. Soul Shadows is another collaboration with 2 time GRAMMY® nominated pianist, composer, arranger, Geoffrey Keezer. KSJS-FM Radio Programmer, Dr. Brad Stone considers Soul Shadows to be “Simply her best work to date!”Denise also appears as guest vocalist on GRAMMY® Award Winner Bill Cunliffe’s Christmas recording, That Time of Year. (2011). In addition to Denise’s 2010 GRAMMY® Nomination, The Los Angeles Jazz Society has honored Denise with their 2012 Jazz Vocalist of the Year award. Denise tours extensively, performing at jazz festivals , jazz clubs, performing art centers, and with university jazz bands where she conducts master clinics. Donatelli’s innate musicianship and pure tone have won her spots singing for episodes of The Simpsons, television promos for Frasier, Card Sharks and Turner Classic Movies and has appeared in national and international commercials for CNN, Hyundai, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz among others. Growing up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Denise’s talent was discovered at the early age of three when she plunked out Silent Night on the family piano. By the age of four, Denise began studying classical piano. She was an active member of the Allentown Music Club along with area musicians including jazz pianist Keith Jarrett. She garnered numerous ‘Superior’ awards for her piano performances in the National Federation of Music Club’s regional piano competitions. While piano study was a major part of Denise’s musical background, she always loved to sing and soon realized that her true passion was jazz and popular music. Placing her musical career aside in favor of motherhood, Denise found her voice again years later after relocating to Atlanta, Georgia. It wasn’t long before she became immersed in Atlanta’s jazz scene working by day at Turner Broadcasting System and singing at night with a jazz trio at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. A decision to move to Los Angeles in 2000, put her in touch with some of the city’s stellar musicians including Neil Hefti. Described as “a musician’s singer” by GRAMMY® Award winning saxophonist, Phil Woods, Denise has performed as guest vocalist with Roger Kellaway, Terry Trotter, Christian Jacob’s Big Band Theory, Alf Clausen’s Jazz Orchestra, Les Hooper’s Big Band and the Stan Kenton Alumni Band.
- Amazing Smooth and Jazz
Los Angeles-based vocalist Denise Donatelli won a Grammy nomination with her second Savant CD, When Lights Are Low. Possessing a voice of exceptional nuance, agility and unerring pitch, Denise is able to imbue whatever she chooses to sing with her special warmth, wit and insight. Reuniting the Grammy-nominated duo of Denise and her Music Director / accompanist Geoffrey Keezer, Savant Records presents their latest collaboration. Together, Denise and Geoff offer another program of un-hackneyed tunes in interesting arrangements that have come to be synonymous with a Denise Donatelli recording.(Amazon)
Two time GRAMMY® nominated and critically acclaimed award winning Savant recording artist Denise Donatelli has become one of today’s premiere jazz vocalists.
She has recorded four albums to date ... Soul Shadows (2012 Savant), When Lights are Low (2010 Savant), What Lies Within (Savant 2008), In the Company of Friends (Jazz Media 2005). Denise also appears as guest vocalist on GRAMMY® Award Winner Bill Cunliffe's Christmas recording, That Time of Year. (2011).
Soul Shadows received a 2012 GRAMMY® nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album and When Lights are Low received two nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album and another for Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist for collaborator and pianist Geoffrey Keezer for his arrangement of "Don't Explain."
Denise has also been honored by the Los Angeles Jazz Society with their 2012 Jazz Vocalist of the Year award.
Denise tours extensively, performing with university jazz bands, conducting master clinics and has headlined in recent years at New York's famed Dizzy's Club Coca Cola at Lincoln Center, San Diego's Birch Theater, Seattle's Jazz Alley, Yoshi's Jazz Club in Oakland, CA, and the historic Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in addition to jazz festivals across the country.
Denise´s innate musicianship and pure tone have won her spots singing for episodes of The Simpsons, television promos for Frasier, Card Sharks and Turner Classic Movies and has appeared in national and international commercials for CNN, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz among others.