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Dena DeRose: A Walk in the Park

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MaxJazz’s assemblage of top-drawer vocalists, an exaltedly diverse roster that already includes Claudia Acuna, Rene Marie, Rebecca Martin, Carla Cook and Patti Wicks, takes another big leap forward with the addition of singer-pianist Dena DeRose. A consistently imaginative and intelligent performer who seems to spend all of her professional time stationed at the crossroads of class and creativity, DeRose remains at the top of her game throughout this eclectic assortment of 11 tracks, delivered in the welcome company of drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Martin Wind.

There’s a hint of Lena Horne’s sultriness in DeRose’s espresso-dark “Meditation,” a touch of Blossom Dearie’s joviality in her downy “All My Love,” a soupcon of Chris Connor’s introspection igniting her “The Lonely Ones” and a frisky, June Christy-esque breeziness about her gentle, bossa-nova version of “All the Way.” Elsewhere on this richly accomplished set she puts an enticingly fresh spin on “Imagine,” replacing John Lennon’s dreaminess with a more robust optimism, stirs the deep, near-obsessive passion at the heart of “I Concentrate on You” and meanders through a non-vocal treatment of the title tune that simultaneously suggests the assuredly elegant touch of Oscar Peterson and the retro-contemporary majesty of Bill Charlap.