Dee Daniels Soars
by Shawn O'Neal
It’s become the natural question this time each year. If Dee Daniels doesn’t draw a standing ovation, has the University of Idaho Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival actually taken place?
Alas, the answer will have to wait for at least another year. In a night highlighted by female vocalists, the festival went to its first lady for an opening salvo and, as usual, the Vancouver, B.C. singer brought the crowd to it’s feet.
Daniels even offered a lesson the the students on hand a the Kibbie Dome Friday. “This song I’d like to dedicate to all the females,” Daniels said while sitting at the piano. “I know some of you are young, but I’d appreciate it if you’d lend your ears to an old woman who has been through the mill on my most favorite subject in the whole world. Men... provide us with enough material to talk about for all our lives, and those of our children and grandchildren.”
A night after teaming with singer Roberta Gambarini and saxophonist Houston Person to deliver one of the festival’s early highlights with “Honeysuckle Rose,” Daniels broke out the good stuff again Friday. Daniels’ bluesy deliver on “Dr. Feelgood” made the standing ovation that followed seem anticlimactic as the crowd had started rising to its feet before she was even finished.
Daniels was helped along by the guitar solo of Russell Malone, who seemed to revel in the song’s blues leanings. “It’s great to be here, especially when you have these guys up here with you,” Daniels said.
She was speaking of the house quartet of Malone, drummer Jeff Hamilton, bassist John Clayton and pianist Benny Green who gave way to Daniels on piano. Hamilton laid down a blistering solo on the opening tune, drawing the crowd’s early appreciation and – as Daniels did for the singers – setting the bar for the rest of the night’s instrumentalists.