Dee Daniels - Vancouver’s Honeysuckle Rose

by Joe Montague, for Riveting Riffs (www.rivetingriffs.com)
Special to the Palm Beach Daily News
February 8, 2008

Singing a jazz cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s, “Can’t Hide Love,” Dee Daniels was impressive from the time that she took to the stage, with her opening tune, at the Kay Meek Centre Studio Theatre in West Vancouver, Canada. Daniels, whose music receives plenty of airplay in both the United States and Canada, kicked off Vancouver’s WinterSong Festival, in the intimate, studio theater, which had been redesigned to take on a jazz lounge like atmosphere.

Dressed in high heels that put the statuesque Daniels well over six feet tall, sheer charcoal colored slacks, and a charcoal and red embroidered jacket, her long fingers, curled around the microphone, as she cooed the Stevie Wonder tune, “Another Star,” which Daniels covered for her JAZZINIT CD.

Daniels, infused the 1926 Fred Rose and Walter Hirsch song, “Deed I Do,” with passion and intimacy, while injecting sense of flirting with both the lyrics and her audience. Stage actress and singer Ruth Etting, first made the song famous recording it for Columbia, however it is Dee Daniels, who on this evening delivered with authenticity, the lines, “Do I love you? / Oh my, do I? Honey, ’deed I do!” Were she not wearing a wedding ring, there may have been more than a few suitors lining up between sets.

The jazz vocalist was backed by a gifted trio consisting of Seattle’s Greg Williamson (drums), upright bass player Russ Botten, and fabulous Vancouver based pianist Tony Foster. Although each of the musicians throughout the evening, took their turn at soloing, it was Foster, who time and time again mesmerized the audience, with his elegant playing, and at other times adopting a hard bop approach, with equal aplomb.

Daniel’s first set consisted mostly of songs from what numerous artists are now referring to as the New American Songbook. Tunes such as James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain,” the Otis Taylor / Aretha Franklin song, “Respect,” Lionel Richie’s, “Hello,” and Ruby and The Romantic’s, #1 song from 1963, “Our Day Will Come.” Daniel’s also unveiled an incredible cover of the Doobie Brothers’ “What A Fool Believes,” with Foster’s piano chops substituting for guitar riffs. All of the songs, have been set in new jazz arrangements and can be heard on Daniels’ current CD JAZZINIT.

For her second set, Daniels took her fans for a musical stroll down memory lane, dipping into the more traditional standards, as she performed, Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose,” (1928), “Fly Me To The Moon,” sung by Kay Ballard, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Felicia Sanders and others, and Ethel Waters’ (written by Maceo Pinkard and Kenneth Casey), “Sweet Georgia Brown.” The introduction for “Sweet Georgia Brown,” was performed in a stripped down fashion for the first minute or so, with only Daniel’s vocals and Botten’s bass groove. This appealing approach allowed the audience to focus on the southern charm of the lyrics.

Perhaps the most romantic moment of the evening came when Dee Daniels gently cooed, “It Had To Be You,” leaving the listener with not much else to do but sigh, and with thoughts of whispering “I love you,” in the ear of that someone special.

Further demonstrating her versatility, Daniels segued easily into the swinging Bobby Darin song, “Mack The Knife,” which she introduced by saying, she was first attracted to the song as a little girl, and it was not much later in life that she realized how risqué the words were for the time when it was first recorded.

Other notable songs that Daniels served up during her second set included, Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind,” and Tony Bennett’s “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me),” which Daniels performed as her encore, while playing the piano.