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When Lights Are Low

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Album Review

Denise Donatelli got a late start in her career as a jazz singer, as she first devoted herself to her work at CNN while raising her family. For her third CD, the talented alto again utilizes the talents of keyboardist/arranger Geoff Keezer with guitarist Peter Sprague, bassist Hamilton Price, and drummer Jon Wikan rounding out the rhythm section, with a few guests on some tracks. She expands her musical horizon a bit more on this release, though there are still plenty of standards. Donatelli swings hard with her rousing interpretation of "It's You or No One." She shimmers in her romantic duet with Keezer on "Why Did I Choose You?". Ron Blake is added on tenor sax for the vocalist's enchanting rendition of Benny Carter's timeless "When Lights Are Low." She's equally comfortable with Cedar Walton's demanding "Enchantment (Firm Roots)." Donatelli ventures into Brazilian music, including a touching, lush rendition of an Ivan Lins/Vitor Martins bossa nova (with English lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman), backed by strings and with superb solos by soprano saxophonist Ron Blake and Keezer. She also offers a playful, breezy take of "The Telephone Song" with Sprague (on acoustic guitar) and Wikan (on pandeito) as her sole accompanists. There are a few twists. Donatelli performs Sting's "Big Lie, Small World" as an infectious bossa nova with a bit of Afro-Cuban seasoning thrown in by Keezer, the backing vocals of the husband-and-wife team of Kerry Marsh and Julia Dollison, plus bass clarinet and cello. The backing is similar for her warm interpretation of the obscure pop ballad "The Bed I Made." Denise Donatelli continues to make impressive strides after her delayed entrance into jazz.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Jazz singer Denise Donatelli first revealed a music inclination when she picked out "Silent Night" on the piano at the age of three; at six, she was a winner at the National Music Federation piano competition, and 14 years of classical piano study followed. But she laid aside her musical career to raise a family. Later, after divorcing in the late '80s and moving to Atlanta, she began performing jazz, earning a residence at the Ritz Carlton Hotel; later, she relocated to Los Angeles. Jazzed Media...
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When Lights Are Low, Denise Donatelli
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