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Denise Donatelli: What Lies Within

- CD Reviews

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Denise Donatelli: What Lies Within
(Denise Donatelli Website)
2007 (Savant Records Website)

Denise Donatelli on Vocals
Bob Sheppard on Saxophones and Flutes
Carl Saunders on Trumpet and Flugelhorn
Geoffrey Keezer on Piano, Marimba, Vibraphone,
Percussion, and All Arrangements
Carlos del Rosario on Organ and Gong
Peter Sprague on Guitar
Hamilton Price on Bass
Marvin “Smitty” Smith on Drums
Alex Acuña on Percussion
Giovanna Clayton on Cello


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 29, 2010

This CD is an 11 track selection of contemporary jazz, with Denise Donatelli’s vocals in vibrant luminosity, accompanied by nine musicians in the course of this recording. There is an expansive rhythm ensemble, including drums, Latin percussion, organ, piano, marimba, gong, and vibraphone. Each track is embellished with brass, including saxes, flutes, trumpet, and flugelhorn, while strings include guitar, bass, and cello. Ms. Donatelli sings with enthusiasm and warmth, and she allows her musicians generous, relaxed solo riffs, showcasing their improvisational talent.

Notable tracks:

#4 – I Love It When You Dance That Way -- Composed by D. Brown.. With a busy, breezy Geoffrey Keezer on percussion and Peter Sprague on guitar, Ms. Donatelli sings casual, cheerful lyrics in Bossa Nova tempo. Carl Saunders, on both trumpet and flugelhorn here, has a vivacious riff, as do Bob Sheppard on alto sax and Keezer on piano. This track is bubbly and joyful.

#6 – Like and Old Song – Composed by F. Pauer – V. Rubin. This exotic track has Keezer on sparkling marimba and pulsating percussion, as Ms. Donatelli sings with radiant abandon, extending vocals as one more instrument. Marvin “Smitty” Smith is busy on drums, as is Carlos del Rosario on Viennese gong and Sheppard on tenor sax. The track is engaging and energized.

#8 – Four Walls – Composed by G. Keezer. Highpoints of this song are Giovanna Clayton’s cello accompaniment, deep and earthy. Alex Acuña’s percussion and Hamilton Price’s bass add warmth and cadence to this sultry track.

#10 – Make This City Ours Tonight – Composed by T. Mann – M. Nascimento. Ms. Donatelli slows and deepens the mood here, after the guitar’s melancholy introduction. And, in the midst of this more mysterious track, Keezer takes an intriguing riff.

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at