LONDON - For those who have been closely following the flowering of Dee Daniel's musical talents over the last decade, recent nominations for the 2001 West Coast Music Awards come as no real surprise. The Vancouver-based American jazz vocalist has been simmering on a slow but bright fire with three generally under-appreciated albums including the uniquely themed Love Story (3XD 502-2) nominated for Best Jazz Release.
Each of the ten standards on Love Story is a chapter in the romantic narrative. Skylark represents Longing, for example, while The Masquerade Is Over speaks of Disillusionment. Wisdom concludes the set with a reflective reading of Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon's That's Life.
Courtesy of Daniel's compelling contralto, the listener is taken on a journey littered with the usual signposts of adult passion -- signposts which have enjoyed the status of standards in the American popular songbook, interpreted with distinction by all of the great divas. Dee Daniels is no less distinguished. She sings with an expressiveness and clarity of articulation rooted in her gospel beginnings. And she is in superb company: Tenor saxophonist Houston Person - like a raw-edged Stanley Turrentine - pours gut-bucket upon gut-bucket of plaintive blues into the session; pianist Miles Black's sublime piano shades those blues in pastels; Blaine Wikjord provides reliable skinsmanship and bassist Darren Radtke successfully nails everything down to the floor.
Dee is a veteran of the international jazz scene having lived in Europe for many years. Indeed, as John Clayton Jr. mentions: "The Europeans got wise very fast and presented Dee on television, radio, theatre concerts, and jazz festivals throughout the continent." This stint included work with the German WDR, The Dutch Skymasters, and appearances at the Montreux, Pori, and North Sea Jazz Festivals, among others.
Versatility is more prized in singers than it is in instrumentalists: the voice is after all, the first instrument A supreme example of this is Ms. Daniel's 1996 outing on the German Mons label, Wish Me Love (MR 874-769), on which she struts her stuff in the expansive company of the Dutch Metropole Orchestra. Always on the hunt for a vocal challenge, Dee's quarry is again, the standard song. From the hard swinging (Sweet Georgia Brown) to the gently uttered (Here's That Rainy Day) she fits neatly into the scheme of Rob Pronk's meaty arrangements yet manages to assert her authority in the lush thicket of brass and strings.
However, it's really the blues that Dee Daniels luxuriates in. The best place to listen to this is on the Capri recording Let's Talk Business (74027-2). Though this excellent disc is now 11 years old, it still rings with its urgency and down-home honesty. Featuring the renowned Clayton brothers on bass and saxophone, Jeff Hamilton on drums, and Larry Fuller at the piano, Daniels gets down to the business of the blues showcasing her gospel affinities along the way, and throwing in to the mix a well-written original, Let Me Love You Tonight.
Dee Daniels is a singer deserving wide and enthusiastic recognition.
Recently announced, jazz vocalist Dee Daniels has two nominations for the 2001 West Coast Music Awards: Best Jazz Release, and Female Artist of the Year.
Dee's nominated release, LOVE STORY (Three X D Music) is a collection of 10 of Dee's favorite jazz standards, thoughtfully selected to share one intimate love story from beginning to end. World-renowned tenor saxophonist, Houston Person, contributes a second voice. Pianist Miles Black leads an excellent trio with Blaine Wikjord on drums and Darren Radtke on bass. Sound clips and reviews are available on Dee's website.