Denise Donatelli

When Lights Are Low

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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.

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