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What Lies Within

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Album Review

With seemingly every twenty-something graduate of college jazz programs rushing to record a CD as a leader, it is refreshing to hear someone like Denise Donatelli, who went to work for CNN and raised a family before making her 2005 debut recording, In the Company of Friends. Her second offering, What Lies Within, is an equally impressive outing for the confident alto, with demanding arrangements by pianist Geoff Keezer, who is both a superb accompanist and soloist. She's confident enough to cede much of the opening track, "My Shining Hour," to feature the instrumentalists. Donatelli excels in her interpretations of instrumental gems that have rarely heard lyrics, including a hypnotic setting of Chick Corea's "Crystal Silence" (which adds Bob Shepherd's flute), the tense arrangement of Fritz Pauer's post-bop "Fairytale Countryside" (a favorite of Art Farmer, renamed "Like an Old Song" with lyrics by vocalist Vanessa Rubin), a hip vocalese treatment of Clifford Brown's bop classic "Daahoud" (retitled "Beloved"), and the gorgeous "This Lament" (penned by J.J. Johnson with lyrics by Meredith d'Ambrosio). She's also open to modern pop, like Joni Mitchell's "Be Cool," which she delivers with a jazzy sensibility, completed by Carl Saunders' cool muted trumpet. Donatelli's warm and confident vocals are flawless throughout the session, exuding a freshness that is rarely heard on vocal jazz CDs.


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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What Lies Within, Denise Donatelli
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