Photo By Fran Kaufman
Photo By Steve Sussman
"The most creative and compelling singer-pianist since Shirley Horn.” --Joe Siegel, Washington City Paper
It's no small thing to be called "The most creative and compelling singer-pianist since Shirley Horn,” but that's how Joel Siegel, Washington City Paper, described Dena DeRose. If she comes to your town, go early. The room will be packed. In addition to touring extensively with her Trio, she has worked with legends like Ray Brown, Clark Terry, Marian McPartland, Benny Golson, John Scofield, and Phil Woods.
Dena’s performance credits range from appearances at the Blue Note, Smoke, Jazz Standard, Kennedy Center, clubs as far flung as Tokyo and Rome and major Jazz Festivals worldwide. Dena has nine acclaimed CDs as a leader to her credit, and currently records for Max Jazz. Her Trio recordings Dena DeRose - Live at Jazz Standard Volume 1 & 2 (2007 and 2008) garnered Grammy Nominations.
Even with this busy schedule, she finds time to teach and has been on the faculty of Manhattan School of Music, NYU, The New School, and others and is currently Head of the Jazz Vocal Department, University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria. Her frequent clinics and workshops include the Dave Brubeck Institute, Stanford Jazz Workshop, Litchfield Jazz Camp, and Prince Claus Conservatory. She also judged the Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition.
The New York Times once wrote, "Dena DeRose sings jazz as if she had been at it her whole life long, and then some.” Not far from the truth; her mother heard her picking out melodies on a toy organ when she was three. She studied classical piano until she was enticed into the world of jazz in junior high. At 17, she found the only jazz teacher in her hometown of Binghamton, and started piano lessons. By the time she went to college, her passion for jazz was full blown. To feed it, she often slipped away from campus and drove to New York City to hear piano idols like Hank Jones, Mulgrew Miller and Kenny Barron.
It is the rare music career that has no challenges, and Dena's is no exception. Her fervor led her right into a case of carpal tunnel syndrome, aggravated by arthritis severe enough to require surgery and force her to stop playing. With her spirit and her livelihood both in jeopardy, in a club one night, someone dared her to get up and sing a song. She did it, she liked it, and so did the audience. Dena had not only found the ticket out of her predicament, but, two years later when she had recovered enough to add piano back into the act, she discovered that singing had helped her add lyricism to her playing.
Since then, Dena's talent has been widely acclaimed. She was selected by Downbeat's Critic's Poll (2002, 2003 and 2006) and as "Jazz Artist of the Year" twice by All About Jazz. She has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz. As her renown spread feature articles and rave reviews appeared everywhere. Alan Bargebuhr of Cadence magazine summed up the reason why... she is a "...stunningly talented pianist/vocalist."
Dena DeRose Trio includes Dena DeRose on vocals and piano, Martin Wind on bass and Matt Wilson on drums. 2011 marks Dena's third appearance at Litchfield Jazz Festival.