A word to the wise. After listening to Denise Donatelli’s latest recording of compositions from the Great American Songbook and several originals, you can be sure that it will strike a responsive chord with you. On Find A Heart, the multiple Grammy Award-nominee vocalist and her 16-piece ensemble breathes fresh life into a wealth of lovely music that has withstood many true-to-form renditions as they are given. The original compositions written by her, Geoff Keezer, Billy Childs and other modern composers, not only offer the listener something new, but these songs speak to our hearts. Guest trumpeter Chris Botti makes a personal appearance on “Practical Arrangement” and leads listeners to further sonic delights.
Donatelli’s warm, energetic, and empathetic interpretations of these songs reveals her lifelong love for music from the Great American Songbook as well as her passion for the sublime music that rises above the redundant noise currently permeating many airwaves. Released for Savant Records, Find A Heart also features the crème de la crème of Los Angeles’ finest musicians.
It opens with the Fagen/Clements standard “Big Noise, New York” featuring Donatelli’s vocals, pianist Geoff Keezer, guitarist Leonardo Amuedo, bassist Carlitos Del Puertos, drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith, and tenor saxophonist Bob Sheppard. This song bursts open with a great intro by Sheppard before Denise makes her entrance with her melodic ideas and interpretation of the lyrics. The entire song swings and delivers the excitement and resonant metaphors of big city life. The group takes important solos – including Keezer’s - before sustaining the tempo with peppier, swinging techniques.
“Love and Paris Rain,” “Find A Heart,” and “Eyes That Say I Love You” are love letters that overflow with passion and intimate details. Here, Donatelli sings with her heart on her sleeve and definitely enhances your listening pleasure. The songs have rich, beautiful melodies that are captivating, and the gifted musicians punctuate Donatelli’s lovely vocals with expert musicality.
With its bold, aggressive mix of delicacy, power and great jazz singing, Find A Heart has it all. This is not ‘almost bravo’ music but is truly some of the best interpretations of the Great American Songbook genre to come along in years.