Review by Michael Lawrence 03/25/14:
"... My favorite song is "Besame Mucho" which has been nominated so I am not alone. I am very impressed with the musicianship top to bottom - which is spot on in the mix, tone and performance. Of course, I always like Redd - but everything else is of great quality as well. I think the thing that most stands out to me is the overall intimacy of the work. The music presentation, production qualities all sync with the choice of songs and the whole concept that you indicated to me - that is, a work of love songs that might be appropriate for a rainy evening in a quiet place with a lover over a glass of wine."
Michael Lawrence, Lawrence & Stinson Law Firm
Review by Nic Raposo 03/13/14:
Dena Taylor's soulful performances on her new album, The Nearness of You, recall the golden era of torch singing with a perfect measure of modern interpretation. Updated arrangements and clean production make these classic standards new again. I loved every note.
Nick Raposo, President, Raposo Asset Management, LLC
Review by Samuel Marvin 02/04/14:
Dena Taylor explores the varying levels of personal intimacy through both her song selection and masterful delivery of these Jazz Standards on The Nearness of You. From the first bars of “When October Goes,” the piano gently leads the listener into Taylor’s first silky vibrato, and from that point on there is no choice but to give in to her melodic journey. Taylor’s singing on this track evokes a sense of nostalgia and seclusion, as if one is sitting in a smoke-filled Jazz nightclub watching the moments drift softly into the abyss and waiting for a lost love that is not going to show. She follows this with the more ironically up-beat “Solitude.” Echoing the timbres and style of the great Billie Holliday, she explores another glimpse towards nostalgia that arouses the sense of such a longing, and the sweet side of a bittersweet feeling. The juxtaposition of these two tracks right from the start demonstrates not only the strong range of her Jazz repertoire, but also a deeper understanding of the versatility of feeling that can be conveyed given similar subject matter.
A distinct shift in tone and sentiment comes with Taylor’s rendition of the sultry “Besame Mucho.” The listener, mentally transported to a charming Latin club somewhere on the Central American coast, feels the gentle swells in both her band’s accompaniment and her lyrical delivery. The feel is cool, mellifluously smooth, and triggers a wonderful sensation of something foreign, yet universal though music. This leads directly into the title track, “The Nearness of You.” Taylor has led the listener from nostalgia through longing, and lands us in the ephemeral and warm spirit of Ella Fitzgerald with this track. She leaves room for her accompanying musicians to tastefully explore and muse with the form, and then takes up the mantel herself, commenting melodically through her own expression of tenderness.
The shift in subject matter that occurs with “Do Nothing Til You Hear From Me” marks a turning point towards reflection in this journey. The very feelings of longing and solitude that drive one to find and explore passion also lead down roads of trepidation, and the remaining tracks convey that distance from the build to “nearness.” There is no clearer example of this than her choice to follow with “If I Love Again.” Taylor echoes the sentiment conveyed in the opening tracks, but with a new understanding and exploration of those feelings. Closing out with Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought of You” comments on the cycle of the journey The Nearness of You embarks upon from the outset. The distance between longing and love, nearness and solitude, tenderness and indifference, comes full circle when looked at through the wider lens of the album as a whole.
Musically, Taylor executes these Jazz standards with an ear towards the past, but an eye towards the sentiment. What’s most striking is how she blends a range of styles within the Jazz genre to explore exactly what “nearness” implies both semantically and emotionally. The longing for nearness, the distance from nearness, and the ambivalence of nearness are all metaphorically and harmonically commented upon in a subtle way that does not demand a trained ear to decipher, but does reward one.
Samuel Marvin, MA Humanities – University of Chicago
Review by Scott Yarnow (01/27/14):
Veteran singer Dena Taylor has experienced a great deal in her life including spending 12 years overseas as a soldier in the military (when it did not interfere with the work that she was doing, she had the opportunity to sing with touring USO shows that were in the field of operations where she was deployed), surviving a terrible car accident after returning to the US, and developing into a very effective ballad and standards singer who puts a lot of feeling into her interpretations of lyrics. She gained recognition during her period in Florida and is currently based in Austin, Texas. Ms. Taylor has recorded several CDs of which The Nearness Of You is her most recent.
Accompanied by several different rhythm sections which include some of the top jazz players in Texas, Dena Taylor performs ten timeless standards on The Nearness Of You. With fine support and excellent solos from her sidemen, particularly guitarists Grammy winner Redd Volkaert and Rick McRae and pianist David Chao, she excels on a variety of high-quality material. Most of the songs are taken at slower tempos and put the spotlight on Ms. Taylor's heartfelt ballad singing. While she puts a lot of feeling and sensitivity into the lyrics, she never overwhelms the material and instead lets the words speak for themselves.
Among the highlights are "When October Comes," a pretty version of "But Beautiful," "For All We Know" and a superb rendering of "The Nearness Of You." Bossa nova treatments of "Besame Mucho" and "The Look Of Love" give variety to the set of pleasing and memorable music.
Lovers of superior ballad singing will definitely want to acquire Dena Taylor's The Nearness Of You.
Scott Yanow, author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers, the Great Jazz Guitarists, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76.
Review by Women of Substance Radio (01/23/14):
Listening to Dena Taylor's new album "The Nearness of You" is like eavesdropping on a conversation between two lovers. The ease of the "back and forth" exchange between Dena and the jazz ensemble demonstrates their commitment to each other and the integrity of the music.
Dena sings these standards with passion and care, like a mother cradles a newborn. Her vocals are both sultry and lyrical with a signature vibrato akin to the female crooners of old.
Some standout tracks include the title track, "Solitude", "Besame Mucho" and "The Look of Love" just to name a few. But listen to the album in its entirety to be transported to another time and place for an hour. You'll be glad you took the journey.
Bree Noble, Women of Substance Radio
IMC's 2014 Best Female Jazz Artist
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