Sweet-sounding vocalists steal show from orchestra

Concert Review:
Swing! Swing! Swing! Denzal Sinclaire, Dee Daniels & WSO Pops
by James Manishen
January, 2004

Last night’s Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Pops wasn’t exactly a bold stroke of imagination, program-wise. Just a collection of old standards glossed up in decent arrangements for the orchestra and trotted out one after another with amiable patter from the vocalists to keep the evening fluid.

The title of the show was a misnomer. No big-band facsimiles here. No Goodman, Miller or Basie. But Vancouver’s Denzal Sinclaire has the enviable quality of making you want to listen to his silky liquid tones all night. And Dee Daniels’ polished energy is not only fully engaging on its own, but with a spiky edge to perfectly synch with her smooth colleague.

Last night was the first time the two had ever worked together with a symphony orchestra, though you felt both as having come from a lot of grooving together beforehand.

Sinclaire delivered some fine Gershwin (For You, For Me, Forevermore and Oh, So Nice) and proved an able scatter in Sweet Georgia Brown with Daniels, who scored nicely on the first half with a version of God Bless The Child, with a soulful sound that was more Aretha than Billie.

Following a rather tired-sounding medley of pop hits from the WSO to open the second half, Sinclaire eased through A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening with pianist Ron Paley gliding across the keyboard. Daniels then supplied a little Marilyn Monroe vulnerability in I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, about-facing for a show-stopping close.

Too Young had Sinclaire aligned with cellist Yuri Hooker and violist Dan Scholz in some gentle gestures. Then came an upbeat This Is My Lucky Day, as Sinclaire took a solid turn at the piano, followed by a beautiful go by Daniels, with a memorable riff into the stratosphere at the end of I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good).