Dee Daniels’ JAZZINIT - Jazz CD Reviews - Listen/Buy

  Jazzinit (Origin)  
By Christopher Loudon, Jazztimes Jan/Feb 2008  

When, to borrow a skill once credited to Dee Daniels by Leonard Feather, you “soul-fry” a batch of pop hits, are you jazzin’ it or putting jazz in it? Such is the intentional double entendre that ignites this magical assortment of hits old and (relatively) new from the Vancouver-based songstress who Houston Person rightly calls “the jazz world’s hidden treasure.” And, given Daniels’ well-established jazz cred and her obvious ability to hammer some bluesy sass into even the most resistant of tunes, the titular debate is moot. Apart from the eight-decade-old “Deed I Do,” which Daniels bathes in a bubbling pool of bossa-spiked hot sauce, most of the selections date from the ’50s through the ’80s. But what she does to them is anything but retro. Daniels bursts through the gates with a percolating rendition of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Can’t Hide Love,” slows to a smoldering crawl for a stunning reading of Stevie Wonder’s “Another Star,” injects Lionel Richie’s saccharine “Hello” with genuine zealousness, rocks Michael McDonald’s “What a Fool Believes” with gentle sagacity, and cuts loose with a “Respect” that’s as joyously, confidently celebratory as Aretha Franklin’s was explosively self-affirming. As molded by Daniels, even David Gates’ milquetoast “If” is given a solid workout, with welcome sinew wrapped around its frail bones. But the pièce de résistance, the track that’s alone worth the price of admission, is a nimbly swingin’ “Fire and Rain” that transforms the James Taylor masterpiece from bleakly fatalistic hymn to vibrant survivalist anthem.

 

 

  Vancouver jazz vocalist Daniels has all the tools - range, power, taste.  
By Marke Andrews, Vancouver Sun  

Vancouver jazz vocalist Dee Daniels reworks pop songs from the past half-century on Jazzinit, a title designed to make the listener ask: “Does she mean Jazz in it, or Jazzin’ it?”

The answer is both. She and the backing trio (Tony Foster on piano, Russ Botten on bass, Greg Williamson on drums) kick things off with a hard-swing rendition of the Earth Wind & Fire R&B number, Can’t Hide Love, making it sound like it was written for jazz quartet. Stevie Wonder’s Another Star receives a ballad treatment, and the Doobie Brothers song What A Fool Believes has an Afro-Cuban feel punctuated by shots from the band.

As always, Daniels owns each song she performs. She has all the tools - great range, power, taste and interpretive command, and when she takes a familiar song in a different direction, it feels just right. She belts out the Everly Brothers number Bye Bye Love, making you feel the lyric “hello emptiness.” She performs the Otis Redding hit Respect as a brisk shuffle, and you have to love the way she sings, “Whip it to me when you get home.”

James Taylor’s Fire And Rain has a solid backbeat that doesn’t feel like a violation of the original.

 

 

  Dee Daniels JAZZINIT Review  
By Carl Anthony, Music Director, WCLK Jazz 91.9FM  

Dee Daniels uncovers the Jazzinit as she skillfully interprets the stories of American composers Stevie Wonder, Elvis Presley, James Taylor, Lionel Richie and Otis Redding among others, thus ushering these authors into the echelon of past contributors to the great American songbook. Refreshing!!!

 

 

  Dee Daniels JAZZINIT Review  
By Joost van Steen, Host/Producer of Jazz and Blues Tour with ASFM 105.4, The Netherlands  

A special word to all the youngsters inspired to discover Jazz and it’s meaning... Dee Daniels, together with musicians Tony Foster - piano, Russ Botten - bass and Greg Williamson - drums, has created the ultimate example for you all with her new CD, “JAZZINIT”. Her vocal skills, the skilled and complimentary accompaniment of the musicians, and the great song selection on this CD perfectly describes the slogan of the second hour of my Jazz & Blues Tour radio show... Lean Back and Enjoy. Rest assured, that is exactly what I did when I first listened to JAZZINIT. It is my pleasure to put this beautiful CD ‘on air’ in my program!

 

 

  Interpreting a New Lyrical Canon  
By John Stevenson  

Every now and then, the art and craft of jazz gets a kick up its rear end. Put more politely, it is updated from time to time.

A small number of jazz instrumentalists and vocalists do this by planting melodic flags on altogether higher harmonic peaks. With Bebop, for example, Charlie Parker and John Birks Gillespie upended swing’s sway with dizzying feats of individual improvisation; Ella Fitzgerald single-handedly transformed the role of the jazz songstress with spellbinding scat singing; Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor reconfigured melodic maps aplenty; Sun Ra was one of the first all-round jazz keyboardists, utilising electric instruments long before they were fashionable in a jazz context. These are but a few instances of the way jazz musicians, on their unending quest for creativity and artistic uniqueness, enable fresh breezes to blow through stuffy rooms of aesthetic appreciation.

For a little over a century, the common currency of jazz musicians has been the ‘jazz standard’. This enables them to jam or play/sing with any musician, whether they are in Manhattan or Melbourne, Boston or Beijing, Vancouver or Vienna. These standards chiefly comprise Tin Pan Alley show tunes, pieces from the Great American Songbook, and the compositional corpus of the music’s Ragtime, Swing, Bebop and Post Bop numbers passed down over several generations. Along with the so-called Fake and Real Books, this expansive body of work has stood, and will continue to stand the test of time. As long as there are jazz musicians in existence, these works will be treated with a mixture of sacredness and relevance.

In the same way that Cole Porter’s I Get A Kick Out of You or Rodgers and Hammerstein’s My Favourite Things would have been popular with jazz musicians and their audiences in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, an altogether different universe of compositions will find, and in fact, have found resonance in the new millennium, based on the music of a much more contemporary period.

It is at this point that Dee Daniels enters the conversational frame, so to speak, to bequeath her own inimitable vocal gifting to the ongoing lyrical tradition as a jazz singer non pareil.

On JAZZINIT, she reinvigorates and indeed lends fresh interpretation to new material cutting across a very broad swathe of genres and styles. What is remarkable about this specific take on the material at hand is Dee’s deployment of a potent amalgam of blues, gospel and swing, among other musical resources. Joined by pianist Tony Foster, drummer Greg Williamson and bassist Russ Botten in an all-acoustic format, Dee’s latest offering is certain to bring new audiences to an appreciation of jazz and give free rein to the improvisational impetus in the direction of canonising popular music.

She goes knocking on the library door of 1970s funk’n’soul with an infectiously swinging rendition of Earth, Wind & Fire’s Cant Hide Love. Like an ol’ time preacher, Dee “speaks into” the lyric, perhaps more emphatically than Maurice White and company did on the memorable Skip Scarbrough-penned number. Next up is the 1926 Hirsch-Rose composition, Deed I Do, covered famously by Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee. Dee’s rendition is relaxed and mellow, permitting the song to breathe in measured, latin-tinged tones. Her interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s Another Star (taken from the Motown artist’s seminal Songs in the Key of Life double album of 1976) is one of JAZZINIT’s most powerful balladic moments.

JAZZINIT competently maps the geography of the human heart in a brace of appropriate meters and moods, be they sotto voce or fortissimo. What A Fool Believes (done by Michael McDonald and Doobie Brothers), is a prime example: Greg Williamson’s rhythmic brushes and cymbals, and Tony Foster’s gentle Afro-Cuban influenced piano chords (with occasional nods to Monty Alexander) suitably compliment Dee’s convincing and stirring delivery.

Without ever descending into schmaltziness or mawkish sentimentality, Dee rehabilitates Lionel Richie’s 1983 chart-topping hit Hello, giving it new meaning within a jazz context, her controlled contralto evidently revealing itself to be a wondrous vocal pearl. Dee and company’s mid-tempo blues shuffle on Fire and Rain stands in sharp - and I daresay welcome - contrast to James Taylor’s original. Again, the influence of the church is strong; Dee manages to successfully merge the secular and the spiritual, the pew and the performance hall. If (from Bread), the hardy perennial played and performed at weddings around the world, gets a new and thoroughly moving rendition on JAZZINIT, as does Aretha Franklin’s Respect – as relevant now as it was when Aretha first released hers in 1967.

Elvis Presley in a jazz context? ‘No problem!’ is Dee’s reply. Her soulful, softly uttered take on the King’s 1956 hit song Love Me Tender is calming and soothing. Russ Botten’s confident and assured walking bass line is also one of this rendition’s remarkable features. On Our Day Will Come, Dee’s cool vocalisation buoyed by the infectious mid-tempo swing set up by her backing trio, makes you want to head to the dance floor. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Diana Ross as well as Ruby and the Romantics have covered the Mort Garson and Bob Hillard song, but Dee has now claimed it as her own.

The CD’s penultimate rendition, yet another unusual choice, is Felice and Boudleaux Bryant’s Bye Bye Love, popularised by The Everly Brothers, Ray Charles and even Simon and Garfunkel. This time around, done in a funky half-time groove for the verses and a rollicking 4/4 shuffle on the choruses.

Rounding things out for the finale, Dee has penned an original, The Thought of You. It’s a bluesy and somewhat dark song, brimful of pathos and winter imagery, but packs the kind of emotional punch that characterises the best love songs.

Dee Daniels has enviably succeeded in extending and vitalising the jazz canon. Most importantly, she has loaned her considerable vocal abilities (honed through multiple decades in distinguished performance spaces and recording situations throughout North America and Europe) in the service of an evolving art form.

As is the case with Ms Daniels’ excellent DVD, Dee Daniels Live at Biblo, Dee is queen of all that she musically surveys. You could say that JAZZINIT is a tour d’horizon; Dee takes us on the jazz tour of popular song, starting from Deed I Do penned in 1926, right up to the contemporary period.

I am confident that you will explore many delightful musical vistas along the way as you listen to these masterful renditions on JAZZINIT.

(John Stevenson is a United Kingdom-based writer and broadcaster. His work appears in a variety of publications including The Guardian (UK), Jazzwise (UK), West Africa magazine (UK), Jazz Report (Canada), as well as ejazznews.com, allaboutjazz.com and jazzreview.com.

 

 

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