From her Facebook page, I learned that Denise King, the round-the-way-Philly-girl-vocalist-supreme was performing at the Philadelphia Art Museum on their Friday jazz set. Got to check her out with a wonderful group of musicians that included her steady pianist, the impeccable Aaron Graves. The band also included the stallion, bassist Lee Smith, Bruce Cox (drums) Abraham Burton (sx), and Duane Eubanks on trumpet.
DK can work a room not only with sheer musicianship, but also with personality plus—an easy rapport with diverse
audiences around the globe. The standards were expertly done: Mr. Graves has a wonderful way of shaping the emotional contours of a song even as he guides the other musicians in and around this singer’s subtle and quick imagination. One gets the feeling that these songs will never be played the same way again. I don’t think Mr. Lee has ever played a wrong note in this life—always in the pocket and on point. And It was also a great pleasure to hear Duane Eubanks for the second time this month. He was tucked away in Dave Holland’s Big Band at the Painted Bride recently. Here, however, we got to hear his strengths—a clarion-like clarity, an unhurried sense of lyricism that are particularly moving on ballads.
I also took in the Michelangelo Pistoletto exhibition currently taking up a lot of real estate at the museum. Pistoletto’s work spans many expressive modes—painting, installation, abstraction, and more. Coupled with the music in the other room, imagination was the word of the day.
I had the pleasure of writing a very contemporary arrangement of Oliver Nelson’s classic “Stolen Moments” for Denise on my soon-to-be-released CD titled Colored Waiting Room. She killed it, of course, and her fans will get to hear her in a “neo-soul meets hard bop” soundscape. Stay tuned!