CD: Dena DeRose

Dena DeRose: Live At Jazz Standard, Volume Two (MaxJazz). Spontaneity and a sense of discovery continue in this second set by DeRose and her trio at the New York club. She, bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson connect with one another and with an enthusiastic audience. The connection comes by way of taste, musicianship and a sense of shared enjoyment — outright fun, in fact. As in volume one, she concentrates on standard songs, but this time she includes three that are seldom done. 

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DeRose has kept “The Ruby and the Pearl” in her repertoire for a dozen years or more. She recorded it in her first album in 1996 and has deepened not only her interpretation of the lyric but also her improvisation. The track contains the first of several instances of DeRose’s vocalizing in unison with her single-note lines on the piano, something she does superlatively in the tradition of Joe Mooney. The fun reaches its apogee in “Laughing at Life,” which DeRose gives a straightforward treatment without the edge of irony in Billie Holiday’s version. Following her first vocal chorus, she begins riffing on a phrase and the trio turns the piece into a virtual blues, to the hilarity of all concerned. She brings to “I Can’t Escape From You” a melancholy reading enhanced by Wilson’s subtle cymbal splashes. 
Derose plays a reflective out-of-tempo introduction before she takes “In Your Own Sweet Way” into a comfortable ¾ swing wth a fine bass solo by Wind. It has a chorus by DeRose that makes me wonder why she isn’t more frequently mentioned as a leading piano soloist. It is the only non-vocal track on the CD. As in his work in the trios of two other pianists, Bill Mays and Denny Zeitlin, Wilson keeps the attention of his colleagues and his listeners, layering in little packages of rhythmic surprise as he lays down perfect time. “When Lights Are Low,” “Detour Ahead,” “I Fall in Love Too Easily” and “We’ll Be Together Again” round out the album, all at a high level of satisfaction in this welcome recording.
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