Review by Bree Noble 03/05/2010:
This unique jazz performer released her new album "Certitude" this week and we are the first to spin the tracks. Although Dena has been known for putting her own hip and modern twist on jazz standards in the vein of Ella Fitzgerald, "Certitude" is a new, mature artistic direction for Taylor.
The album is a genre-defying collection of tunes that are sure to appeal to lovers of Country and Latin music as well as fans of her jazz standards. A complete listen through the album is like taking a Sunday afternoon drive in the country: relaxing and soothing with picturesque scenery, but every once in a while stumbling upon a unexpected delight. Dena Taylor's voice is silky and passion-filled throughout.
Although there are more straight-forward arrangements like "Send In The Clowns", there are surprising takes on standards like a version of "The Man I Love" like you've never heard before. For Country traditionalists, songs like "Here We Go Again" and "I Forget You Everyday" will strike a chord. For our Jazz Show we've chosen two tunes with Latin undercurrents which we think our listeners will enjoy, "Sway" and "Quiet Night Of Quiet Stars".
Amongst the Southern inspired standards runs a ribbon of latin and jazz which creates a synergy that words cannot do justice. Let your ears experience this new style of easy listening jazz standards with a huge helping of country grits and a dash of habanero chile.
Bree Noble, Women of Subtance Radio,
Review by Rosana Caban 02/10/2010:
Dena Taylor’s Certitude is 11 tracks of unpretentious, well-performed country inspired jazz. The songs are considered standards, but they emanate a rich southern flavor that isn’t often associated with a standard jazz tune.
The album features Redd Volkaert (2009 Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance) and Ernie Durawa (Gold Record Drummer of “The Sir Douglas Quintet” and “The Texas Tornados). Both bring a unique perspective to the album, adding to its country influence.
Rather than give us a collection of standards, Dena gives us a cohesive album that flows from one track to the next. She has the experience to know how to please a listener with her voice, which is not unlike Carly Simon, especially in the tracks “I Thought About You” and “The Man I Love”. The simplicity of her performances showcases how control and poise can sometimes resonate stronger than over-the-top vocal performances.
She makes a strong emotional connection in “I Forget You Every Day” and the listener benefits from it. The amount of tremolo on the guitar in “One For My Baby (and One for the Road)” is a bit distracting, but otherwise the album’s production and mixing are incredibly good.
The instrumental performances cannot be ignored. They truly make this album an absolute must-have. In particular, the performance on “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” by Matt Smith on guitar is too good to ignore. The performances on “Teach Me Tonight” are also noteworthy.
Dena features two duets on the album with Redd Volkaert in “Here We Go Again” and Matt Smith in “Teach Me Tonight”. Volkaert and Smith have solid vocal skills, but they’re outshined by their own guitar performances, and by Dena’s stronger, more experienced vocal command.
This album is a wonderful addition to any music library. This will easily be embraced by fans of jazz who wouldn’t mind a bit of country in their lives AND fans of country who wouldn’t mind a little jazz in theirs.
Independent Review by Rosana Caban for MyMusicSuccess
Review by Max Maffia 02/2010:
I'm on my way back from six hours in the recording studio. I'm in the car as usual - exhausted - but happy and full of inspiration. It's time to slip into my iPod headphones and let myself be soothed by the notes that precede the night.
I'm already familiar with the class of Dena Taylor and the warmth of her voice and I've only traveled a few yards when I find myself asking, "What'll I Do?" and letting the slide guitar transport me into unexpected and unknown lands. Narrowing the gap between country music and jazz classics, this highly successful experiment is as elegant as always (just listen to Dena's debut album, Round Midnight, for confirmation).
Only a few minutes have passed by and the night is calm and "the sky's a blackboard high above us" and I ask the sky to "Teach Me Tonight!" A wonderful duet with Matt Smith (voice, guitar, dobro), accompanied by the rhythmic hand of Ernie Durawa.
This sensual episode makes way for the latin "Sway" masterfully performed, forgive me if it's not among my favorite tracks, and I move on instead to an exquisite moment of reflection in "I Forget You Every Day." The track starts up with the line "memory is a gift man can’t live without" and I catch myself thinking just how true that is as Redd Volkaert (2009 Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance) on the guitar makes all the difference, helping us to understand that there are "times we can't control the things we think about."
Then, with home looming on the horizon, everything flows into the notes of Gershwin and his marvelous "The Man I Love." Here Dena returns to her great love and you can't help but realize it. I wish my journey would last longer. This track is a masterpiece. I listen to it again and, as I listen, I am more and more convinced that both the night and I "won't say a word."
I'm half way home and happier than I was earlier. It's so hard these days to find something that genuinely transmits strong emotions. I ought to stop and think about it but everything moves on so quickly and you can't get left behind. Even the night has decided to increase its rhythm and I feel that pressing need to get home until "Song for My Father" reminds me that I am in a Mediterranean country and that it will never get cold and that there's no need to rush.
The album moves on smoothly, highlighting the quality of the artist and her musicians. A touching "Send in the Clowns" opens the second part of this album and a dreamy "I Thought About You" takes me through to this "Quiet Night of Quiet Stars". No other song could be a more fitting soundtrack for how I'm feeling right now: "quiet nights and quiet dreams, quiet walks by quiet streams". Then, with a final return to those classics which have somehow touched us all, "One for My Baby (and one for the road)." Rounding off the album, with the same successful line-up of Redd Volkaert and Ernie Durawa used earlier, is "Here We Go Again."
I arrive home with a new desire: to see these musicians live and to live these emotions as I watch them play. As with Dena Taylor's debut album, Round Midnight, this album is definitely not to be missed and the "Certitude" lies in the fact that its wealth of passion transcends even the technical excellence of the musicians involved and that I, in the meantime, can sleep sweet dreams.
Max Maffia, Daybox Records (Italy)