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Simply Mellow

Denise King

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Album Review

Like Dianne Reeves and Vanessa Rubin, Denise King is an appealing example of a jazz vocalist who hasn't escaped the influence of the R&B she grew up listening to. Elements of Marlena Shaw, Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson, and an awareness of soul singing serve the charismatic Philadelphian well on Simply Mellow, her third album. King is in excellent form on swinging interpretations of standards like "East of the Sun," "Just Friends" and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Wave," and she pleasantly surprises us by turning two early-'60s soul/pop classics — the Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and Ruby & the Romantics' "Our Day Will Come" — into acoustic jazz. Other high points of this very accessible CD (which she produced with pianist Orrin Evans) range from a lively version of Muddy Waters' "Got My Mojo Working" and a charming take on Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns" to a sparse arrangement of Duke Ellington's "Caravan." Simply Mellow, which came out when King was 43, made her supporters in Philly wish that she were better known nationally.

Biography

Born: 31 October 1954

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s

Influenced by Nancy Wilson, Marlena Shaw and Sarah Vaughan, Denise King is an expressive, big-voiced singer who combines jazz with elements of R&B, blues and gospel. King was born and raised in Philadelphia, where she was exposed to R&B as a child and discovered jazz at 12 thanks to an uncle who was an avid record collector. After graduating from high school, the Philadelphian entered the medical field and earned her living as a technician and a family-planning counselor. King was in her...
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