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Dena DeRose: Travelin’ Light

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This hour-long session, captured over three nights at Antwerp’s Chromatic Attic in springtime 2010, isn’t Dena DeRose’s first live album. Indeed, she’s delivered nothing but live albums since the mid-2000s. But it does mark the first time, across a career now entering its third decade, that DeRose recorded, live or in studio, solo-just her at the piano.

Opening with “Nice ‘n’ Easy,” DeRose sets an ideal tone for the leisurely, ballad-focused playlist that ensues. Minimalist DeRose is a delight to experience, providing an opportunity to focus as carefully on her playing as her singing, discovering anew that her keyboard skills mirror the controlled vibrancy and keenly intelligent authority of Bill Charlap, particularly on a vividly variegated “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon).”

True to her career-long recording pattern, DeRose blends sturdy standards-“‘S Wonderful,” “I’m Old Fashioned,” a twilit “Blue in Green” (featuring Meredith d’Ambrosio’s faraway lyric), a jaunty “How Little We Know,” a deeply tender “Why Did I Choose You?” and an ingenious reading of the title track that is at once forlorn and fancy-free-with less-familiar material. Among the latter: a softly bruised treatment of Arthur Hamilton and Johnny Mandel’s forlorn “I Never Told You,” a starry-eyed meander through Marian McPartland and Johnny Mercer’s “Twilight World,” and a singularly desolate plumbing of the depths of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Roger Shore’s “Portrait in Black and White.”

Originally Published