'Let the Good Times Roll' sets the mood for concert

by Val Friesen
The Oliver Chronicle
October, 2006

The South Okanagan Concert Society got its new season off to a stellar start Friday night with the jazz vocalist/pianist Dee Daniels playing to a near-full house.

From the moment this tall musical force walked onto the stage and began her first piano-side chat, she had the audience in the palm of her hand. Exuding warmth, charm and energy, Miss Daniels' first number, "Let the Good Times Roll", spelled out the program for the next two hours.

Backed by bassist Russell Botten - a power in his own right - Dee Daniels is actually a trio in herself, blending piano, voice and personality into a musical force that lifts her audience into the spheres of true entertainment.

Her songs were personalized with introductions that were either a nod to the singers she admires most - Carmen McRae, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald among them - or were anecdotes of a touching personal nature that set the tone for standards such as "There'll be Some Changes Made", and "Come Rain or Come Shine". She mentioned discovering a song, in the sense of finding it as one she herself wanted to perform and include in her programs, and then to ringing chords, poured out her heart and gave us "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man".

Leaving the piano to take centre stage, and following a bravura introduction by bassist Botten, Ms. Daniels sassed her way through "Sweet Georgia Brown". Charming. And this playfulness characterized much of Dee's approach to her singing - exploring her huge vocal range, its wonderful tones and colours.

She gospellized her Tony Bennett number, "Who Can I Turn To", then after introducing "something really special about a truly unique man," closed her first set in her blusey blend of soul and jazz by invoking a Southern Baptist revival meeting with the ballad of "Rev Lee". Hallelujah!

In the second half of the program, Dee Daniels treated her audience to three of her own upbeat compositions - one of which, "My Prayer", was written to a poem of her mother's following the death of her step-father. She did a gospel version of "Honeysuckle Rose", and rocked through her Ella Fitzgerald-inspired version of "Makin' Whoopee". This was followed by another blues number, this one dedicated to the men, especially around 40 yeas old, "with the telling title "Someone Else is Steppin' In".

Dee Daniels brought her evening to a close with her own composition, "Love Ain't Love Without You". Now this was as pure a piece of soul music as you're likely to hear, and Ms. Daniels pulled out all the stops. In a few of the earlier numbers, she'd given hints of her astounding vocal range, but stayed mostly in the lower, caramel tones she favours. But for the final moments of this piece, she sailed into the stratosphere, and took her audience with her. And of course there was an encore, "Just a Little Lovin".

Thank you for a delightful evening, Dee Daniels, and thanks also to the SOC Society for bringing us such a fine concert!