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January/February 2008

Dena Derose
Live at the Jazz Standard, Volume One
MaxJazz

There’s something in Dena DeRose’s playing and singing—a smoky sturdiness, a mellow sophistication, that same sense of glowering inhibition so intoxicatingly practiced by the late Anita O’Day—that makes you feel as if you’ve been upgraded to the grown-up table. Fortunately, this hour-long disc, captured at Manhattan’s Jazz Standard over three nights last March, places the listener at the best table in the house as DeRose attacks a standards-heavy playlist like a ravenous grizzly devouring a thick, juicy sirloin. In fairness, though, the fearless splendor can’t be credited to just one colossal talent, but three. For seven years, DeRose has worked alongside bassist Martin Wind and Matt Wilson, shaping one of the most adroit, intelligent and downright powerful trios in the business. Listen to them transform the smoldering passion of “Get Out of Town” into a raging bonfire, unleash the volcanic desire bubbling beneath “Alone Together,” surround (but never obscure) special guest Joel Frahm’s tenor sax with graying clouds of discontent on “I Fall In Love Too Easily,” then thunder to a triumphant finish with an eight-minute “Lover,” and know you’re savoring the denseness of flavor, the impeccable taste, that only maturity can bring.

Originally published in January/February 2008
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