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Dena DeRose: Beauty in Subtlety and Swing

Roseanna Vitro interviews singer and pianist about the art and craft of jazz vocals

Dena DeRose
Dena DeRose

Dena DeRose is a musicians’ musician. She moved from Binghamton, New York to New York City in 1991, honing her craft and making fans everywhere she’s performed. At the age of 21, she was diagnosed with arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome, which forced her to stop playing piano for almost two years. The good news for jazz fans is the illness pushed Dena to develop her lovely singing voice. In 2002, ’03 & ’06, Dena gained national recognition in the annual Downbeat’s Critics Poll for “Artist Deserving Wider Recognition.” She’s been performing, recording, teaching and earning accolades ever since that time. We don’t see or hear Dena often enough since her move to Graz, Austria, seven years ago. She is the vocal chair at The University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. I was lucky to catch Dena on tour promoting her new solo album, Live in Belgium on the MaxJazz record label (www.maxjazz.com/).

On September 14 and 15, New Yorkers have an opportunity to catch Dena in action at The Kitano Hotel Jazz Room. Her group consists of a beautiful rhythm section, Mr. Steve Williams on drums and bass master Ben Wolfe. This coming weekend, September 8th & 9th, Seattle’s vocal jazz fans have an opportunity to hear Dena and I together in concert, plus a workshop on Saturday afternoon, as part of Nich Anderson’s Vocal Jazz Series.

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