KSO concert a toe-tapping event

Concert Review - Kamloops Symphony Orchestra and Dee Daniels
By Mike Youds - The Daily News, Staff Reporter

KSO etiquette forbids humming and tapping to music, but house rules were suitably suspended Friday and Saturday with some persuasion from Vancouver jazz soloist Dee Daniels.

Daniels doesn't like the word diva (strictly defined as a prima donna). As a 13-year-old she was assigned the role of choir pianist at her father's Oakland, Calif., church (a job she looks back on in appreciation but that wasn't always appreciated at the time). She started her career as a member of the Seattle band Dynamite in the early 1970's, and her musical horizons opened up internationally when she moved into jazz in the '80's.

With such a broad musical background, Daniels was able to sing along with and above the orchestra, grace the stage with her natural warmth and have fun improvising some great old American classics - with the occasional "gospelization." Daniels forewarned the audience, in no uncertain terms that if they felt their toes start to move or heads to nod that they were heartily encouraged to do so. They did.

Having dispensed with any airs of the avant garde, the soloist played more of a show-woman than a diva, holding a striking stage presence in a full-length dress that shimmered with tassels of pink, mauve, green and gold, a hint of period fashion in keeping with the origins of the music - show tunes from the glory days of the Hollywood musical, ranging from the 1920's to the 1960's. And, in observance of the calendar, she tossed in a good measure of love songs, including her own compositions, with a stylish delivery.

KSO conductor Bruce Dunn, playing along, maintained a stiff upper lip, and the professionally reserved KSO players were relaxed and enjoying Daniels' music as much as the audience.

Daniels' voice has a hypnotic quality, delivering an impressive range that gave the romantic songs and verse of 50 years ago new life and raw emotion. She poured out a selection as diverse as Sweet Georgia Brown and Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child, weaving the songs together with a rapport that was about as intimate as a concert hall could get.

Symphony musicians set the stage for this Valentine's concert, playing George Gershwin's Girl Crazy followed by an ensemble performance of a Kurt Weill medley from Di Dreigroschenoper, The Three Penny Opera. Faithful interpretation of the music - a muted trumpet helped recall the era - opened the gate to the pre-war and post-war years.

Those in the audience able to recall the glamour of the era enjoyed a healthy helping of nostalgia. Younger listeners probably recognized much of the music simply because it was composed when Hollywood dominated not only the silver screen but the Hit Parade, and its popularity has therefore endured.
Brought back for an encore of the soulful God Bless The Child, Daniels said she'd like to come back some time.

The KSO should take her up on that.