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When Lights Are Low

7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 14, 2010
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When Lights Are Low + Soul Shadows + In The Company of Friends
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Editorial Reviews

The singing of Denise Donatelli is particularly remarkable, since her style is able to employ the positive aspects of both unbridled scat-singing and lyrical balladry. Of special note is the rich timbre of Donatelli's voice, which has the clarity and flexibility to sing almost any imaginable genre from pop/blues to operatic aria. With musical direction by Geoffrey Keezer and the participation of musicians such as Ingrid Jensen, Hamilton Price and others, Denise Donatelli here shows herself to be a talent who belongs in the upper echelon of modern jazz vocalists.

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 14, 2010)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2010
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Savant
  • ASIN: B003WWZ0OO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,871 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By D. Parsons on December 9, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Now with the release of her third great album in the past 5 years, Denise Donatelli has truly scored a vocal jazz "hat-trick". If she is new to you, you will want to check out all 3, including her debut "In the Company of Friends" ('05), and "What Lies Within" ('08). The current CD, "When Lights Are Low", continues to showcase her talent for selecting wonderful material and surrounding herself with great musicians. Once again, there is an interesting & varied line up of jazz standards, ballads and some lesser known (at least to me) gems.

The set starts out swinging with "Its You or No One" which sets the bar high for the musicianship of the album (& is sustained throughout). There is also a more gentle swing tempo for the title song, which is one of the best renditions of this classic that I've heard. I think the ballad selections are especially noteworthy. The poignant "Don't Explain", the sentimental "Why Did I Choose You", the romantic "Kisses", & the aching regret (or resolve) of "The Bed I Made" (with some great vocal harmony), make this an exceptional CD by themselves.

I am very thankful for the numerous female jazz vocalists that are recording today. This music deserves to be preserved and heard, explored and appreciated by audiences old & new. Ms. Donatelli has a wonderful voice for these standards and ballads, but she also brings a fresh & contemporary feel to her recordings. Through her first 3 albums, she has assembled a sophisticated collection of both traditional and contemporary compositions. She has certainly found her "calling" in jazz and if you listen, I believe you will find that she truly "stands out" in the current generation of jazz singers.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gary L. Connely on January 17, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
"When I'm working up a tune, I'll often hum a solo like an instrument and then figure out how to fit the lyrics to the line." So says jazz singer Denise Donatelli. It's not surprising that Ms Donatelli approaches her songs like an instrumentalist, rather than a singer - she spent 15 years studying piano, including several years when she shared her teacher with Keith Jarrett, (man-oh-man, a teacher who can boast of having students like Mr Jarrett and Ms Donatelli, has world class bragging rights). Now days, Ms Donatelli lives in Los Angeles where she works the Southern California club circuit, augmented by some television work - and she's appeared at many of the West's bigger jazz festivals. "When Lights are Low" is her third album.

Ms Donatelli has a pleasing warm midrange contralto voice - she's very smooth and sweet. She tends to take her songs straight ahead - she's not one for "frills" - but she's not adverse to unusual arrangements and she can kick up her heels and scat when she feels like it. She phrases well and articulates clearly - and she swings easily.

"When Lights are Low" is an interesting mix of standards including "It's You or No One," and "I Wish I Were in Love Again;" a couple of more obscure tunes like Billie Holiday's "Don't Explain," (which has got to be one of the most melencholy love songs ever written - seems to me I've heard somebody else sing it recently - maybe I just wish it was "obscure"); and a couple of pop tunes, like Sting's "Big Lie, Small World" that Ms Donatelli gives a "jazz spin" that'll have 'em echoing in your mind for days.

Ms Donatelli is backed by an outstanding rhythm section: pianist Geoffrey Keezer, (who also did most of the arrangements), bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Jon Wikan.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rick Cornell VINE VOICE on March 10, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Although Denise Donatelli is a relatively obscure singer, she scored a Grammy nomination with this c.d. She didn't win; but the N.A.R.A. deemed her more worthy than a number of singers far more famous. I offer my opinion on why this was a good choice:

I've read that Ms. Donatelli sings like an instrumentalist. Maybe so; but then, don't the best of instrumentalists sound like singers? If she and they are musicians, first and foremost, isn't that what really matters?

On this c.d., you hear some stunning musicianship.

Consider the haunting layers of sound on Julia Dollison's "Forward, Like So." The Down Beat critic suggested this recording was a bit "overembroidered" in terms of sound. I agree there's a lot of "embroidery," especially on this track, but I love it for that. It's my favorite on this c.d.

Consider also the modal feel of Cedar Walton's "Enchantment (Firm Roots)." The interplay between the singer and the main man on this c.d., pianist/producer/arranger Geoffrey Keezer, is stunning.

Consider the lucscious layers of vocal sound on "Big Lie, Small World," the tune with the most infectious hook on the recording. I love the interplay of Keezer and the overdubbed "women's choir." Heavily embroidered, yes; but not too much so for my tastes.

The standards are all done well ("Don't Explain," more lushly haunting than usual; "I WIsh I Were in Love Again," "It's You or No One"; and the title track). But it's the above three, plus the charming bossa original "The Telephone Song" that I keep going back to.

I reviewed Ms. Donatelli's first c.d. of 5 years ago, and noted her promise. Now that that promise is being realized, here's hoping for a string of really musical recordings. RC
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