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Darius De Haas: Day Dream: Variations on Strayhorn

I’ve never heard Broadway balladeer Darius de Haas’ uncle, Andy Bey, make mention of their familial link. Perhaps it’s because Bey knows full well that the multitalented de Haas needs no such support to garner accolades from audiences or critics. Best known for his acclaimed work in the original production of Rent, de Haas is blessed with a gorgeous voice and a keen theatrical sophistication. Blending the elegance of Audra McDonald with the bold exuberance of Brian Stokes Mitchell, de Haas transforms his first solo album, Day Dream (PS Classics), into one of the finest Strayhorn salutes ever captured on disc. His singular treatments, at once earthy and ethereal, of such Strayhorn classics as “Satin Doll,” “Passion Flower,” “Lush Life” and “Something to Live For,” along with his jaunty, joyful ride through “Just A-Sittin’ and A-Rockin’,” are each worth the price of admission. But de Haas digs deeper, unearthing such rarities as “My Love Is as a Fever” and “Take All My Loves,” both drawn from Strayhorn and Ellington’s ambitious Shakespeare suite, Such Sweet Thunder. He also introduces two previously unproduced tracks-the tender “House on a Hill” (which bears a striking resemblance to Oscar Hammerstein’s “The Folks Who Live on the Hill”) and the peppery “Got No Time”-from Rose-Colored Glasses, an aborted collaboration with Luther Henderson. The only protestation I can raise is that de Haas doesn’t include “Chelsea Bridge,” a staple of his live Strayhorn shows, among the album’s 15 tracks. That trivial complaint aside, Day Dream truly is a lovesome thing.

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