Feels SO Good - Reviews - Listen/Buy

Dirk Binsau, Jazz-not-Jazz


There are jazz singers and there is Dee Daniels! Dee brings a welcome mature approach to the jazz music scene with having obviously studied all the eclectic masters like Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington or Sarah Vaughn, with whom she had the opportunity of singing whilst staying in Europe from 1982 to 1987.

Dee has a deep and rich voice that sometimes reminds me of the late Teri Thornton. But Dee's also capable of reaching those high notes (just listen to Love Ain't Love Without You, a song which was written by Dee and on which she also plays the piano).

Feels So Good! is a very apt title for Dee's second album on her own Three X D Music imprint, that offers a fine blend of some chestnuts, some less well-known cover versions and original compositions by Dee. And you can hear it on every track that Dee and her musicians had much fun recording this album. Maybe that's why it has been recorded in a mere six hours.

The album kicks off with a great rendition of Honeysuckle Rose that starts like a show-stopping ballad to turn into a swinging track with remarkable interaction between Dee and Benny Powell on trombone. Horace Silver's instrumental Song For My Father is turned into a very convincing vocal jazz song that sounds like it has always been meant to be performed as a vocal version.

Another proof of Dee's ability to adopt a song and turning it into her own, is her cover of April In Paris, the sad approach of this song is intensified by Benny Powell's muted trombone here. Midlife Crisis was written by Dee and Doug Fleming and is a swinging song about the changes you go through when turning forty but at the same time Dee tells us not to worry about your age ("Say it loud/ I'm forty and proud").

Dee also breathes new life into David/Bacharach's The Look Of Love and Bricusse/Newley's Who Can I Turn To with some impressive vocal performances (plus playing piano on Who Can I Turn To).

Singing about the joy of love is certainly one of the favourite all-time topics of music. But it isn't done always as enchanting as by Dee on her original composition Love Is Here, an uptempo tune that almost gives you the same sensation as being in love.

Another highlight is Love Ain't Love Without You. Composed by Dee herself this has a great bluesy feeling to it that fits to the song's lyrical content. Like on the other songs, you can hear on Love Ain't Love Without You, that Dee Daniels isn't your twenty-something young jazz singer who may sing about things she hasn't actually been through in her life so far. No, you just believe at once that Dee has experienced the topics she sings about, that she has had her Midlife Crisis and that she has been so badly in love with someone ("Everywhere I go/ I've got to put on a show/ To hide all my pain and tears that fall like rain/.../ I'm consumed with burning desire/ My need for you just fuels the fire"). There's only one thing to criticize here and that is on Love Ain't Love Without You the drummer Kenny Washington seems to deliver a premature-entry towards the end of the song but then this adds further authenticity to the live-feeling of Feels So Good! and the fact that it has been recorded in just six hours with no re-recordings.

Otherwise there's no denying the musicality and talent of the musicians Dee has chosen to accompany her: Houston Person (tenor sax), Norman Simmons (piano), John Clayton Jr. (bass) and the aforementioned Benny Powell (trombone) and Kenny Washington (drums).

Together they have created a great jazz album with a timeless quality that makes you want to discover Dee's back catalogue and keeps you in eager anticipation for new releases. Great to hear a singer as talented as Dee who hasn't been absorbed or spoilt by the mainstream.


The Vancouver Sun
September 28, 2002
By Marke Andrews


When Vancouver's Dee Daniels is on, which is most of the time, few singers can touch her for both technique and expression.

She has plenty of both qualities on Feels SO Good!, a recording consisting of six jazz standards and three Daniels originals. You hear the technique on the opener, "Honeysuckle Rose", which begins as an open-time ballad full of creative line interpretations, and then rolls into a rollicking swing tempo, with Daniels interacting with trombonist, Benny Powell.

You sense the emotion that goes into all nine tracks, but in particular "April in Paris", where Daniels sings with the ache of a woman who asks, "What have you done to my heart?", and on the 6/8 blues original "Love Ain't Love Without You", where Daniels builds and builds, concluding with one memorable verse where her delivery is almost primal.

Daniels has a legion of fans in the Lower Mainland, and I don't think any will be disappointed with this outing.


The Record,
Album Reviews, Robert Reid
Saturday, June 22, 2002


The rich and sultry voice of Vancouver jazz artist Dee Daniels imbued the theme song for the Urban Peasant with a sophistication the CBC cooking show otherwise lacked.

Daniels brings that same sense of sassy class to "Feel SO Good", the second album released on her own label.

Eight of the album's nine tracks are produced by Daniels, who plays piano in addition to handling vocals. The songs blend six, standards (from Honeysuckle Rose through April in Paris to Horace Silver's Song for My Father) with three Daniels originals

She has recorded an album that captures the feeling of live performance - in no small measure because of the talented musicians she has assembled including Houston Person on tenor sax, Benny Powell on trombone, John Clayton Jr. on bass, Norman Simmons on piano and Kenny Washington on drums.

"Feels SO Good" sounds so good.


Toronto Star, Tues., June 4.
First under "jazz" heading.
Dee Daniels, FEELS SO GOOD (3XD)

This Vancouver vocalist is as sophisticated as they come, and deserves a wide audience for her work - her four-octave voice was heard earlier this year at The Senator. There's more than a touch of Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae in her sound and at times she's as vocally acrobatic as Betty Carter on a session comprised of six standards and three originals. She's in particularly fine form on the opening "Honeysuckle Rose", complete with yodel effects, It doesn't hurt that she's recruited a top-notch New York band with estimable tenorman Houston Person and sympathetic pianist Norm Simmons joined by trombonist Benny Powell, bass John Clayton and drummer Kenny Washington. Daniels brings great intensity to Horace Silver's "Song For MyFather", does more than Diana Krall with "The Look of Love", and also plays nifty piano on "Who Can I Turn To" and her own gospel-like, angst-ridden "Love Ain't Love Without You". She's relaxed and loose, and refuses to be tempted into excess, though she let Person honk happily on her tune "Midlife Crisis" - after all, it's her own record label.


Peter Lund
April/May 2002

In my jazz encyclopedia there are four entries under Daniels - Eddie, Joe, Maine and Mike. There is no reference, however, to Dee Daniels, yet judging by this CD, she is a blues singer of the highest quality. She is responsible for all the arrangements with the exception of Song For My Father, which is arranged by the bassist on the session, John Clayton Junior. Houston Person co-produced the album and was responsible for assembling the highly talented musicians who form the supporting group. Person's wonderful collaboration with Etta Jones is one of the most successful partnerships in jazz but he has done an equally successful job here.

Dee Daniels does sound a little like Etta Jones but she has a swinging, blues style which is all her own. All of the songs are given an excellent outing but I particularly enjoyed her version of Anthony Newly's Who Can I Turn To, on which Miss Daniels also plays piano. Houston Person's driving, tenor playing is in evidence throughout as is the drumming of Kenny Washington. All of the musicians are personal friends of the singer and all contribute to the occasion.

Houston Person describes Dee Daniels as "classy, bluesy, great musicianship, elegant, and more - Dee Daniels, the jazz world's hidden treasure". Who are we to disagree?


ejazznews.com April 23, 2002
John Stevenson

LONDON – Jazz divas have often been given a bad rap. We’ve all heard of the self-indulgences, much-storied temper tantrums, and domineering complexes of these ladies of song. The bittersweet stories of Billie Holiday, and the out-of-the-floodlight antics of Nina Simone, for example, lend credence to a somewhat dark and unpleasant image of the jazz chanteuse. These accounts, though, should not in the least take away from the outstanding vocal prowess of these dames.

Jazz, however, is all about democracy, faith, a sense of musical communion, and above all artistic integrity. Qualities which no doubt marry the musical and the spiritual. Within this definitional matrix, Dee Daniels is a diva, for she embodies the finest traditions of this century-old music.

On her triumphant 2002 release on the 3XD imprint, “Feels So Good”, Daniels has brought together a fine cast of musicians to support a very powerful statement of intent. She is a vocal phenomenon: for her goose-bump inducing contralto, for her exquisite taste in repertoire, her range and command, for her primus inter pares position in relation to her rhythm section and the unique way she threads self-deprecating humour into her singing.

On the CD’s opening tune, “Honeysuckle Rose”, Dee’s infectious swinging transforms the Razaf/Waller piece into a vehicle of joy. “Song For My Father”, the old Horace Silver warhorse, is given a reverential reading, and drummer Kenny Washington Jr keeps the rhythmic line taut. This session feels like one of the Blue Note sessions of the 50s and 60s. The other musicians on the date are veterans of the business. Houston Person is his usual bluesy self on tenor saxophone, pianist Norman Simmons’ chords and runs do justice to every situation, Benny Powell purrs and growls like a trombone tiger, and bassist John Clayton Jr keeps a steady hand on the till when the musical waters get too choppy.

Dee Daniels’ strong suit is her gospel grounding which mightily informs her oeuvre. One gets a fulsome sense of this on listening to “Whom can I turn to”, a standout impassioned gem on which she accompanies herself on piano with rich and inspired chords. Dusting off Hal David/Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love”, the group turns in one of the most polished performances on a cannily live-sounding studio-recorded set.

“Feels So Good” is a breath of fresh air in a world in which the jazz singer’s repertoire is reduced - a la Peggy Lee, Billie Holiday, and lately Diana Krall – to little more than pillow talk and heartache. The infectiousness of the Daniels/Fleming-penned “Midlife Crisis”, and the promise of commitment held in “Love is Here”, are as refreshing as they are original.

American-born, Vancouver-based Dee Daniels, is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets; Canucks should claim her quickly and rapturously.

Houston Person  

Classy, bluesy, great musicianship, elegant, beautiful... and more!
Dee Daniels - The jazz world's hidden treasure.


Benny Powell  

Dee Daniels has surrounded herself with her musical friends who love and support her. I am honored and proud to be one of them.

It was so great to watch the rhythm section work so quickly and efficiently together. John Clayton, Norman Simmons and Kenny Washington hooked up that stuff so intelligently and soulfully it was magic watching them.

Standing next to Houston Person was a thrill for me. I've been a fan of his a long time, because he always plays the right notes for the situation.

And Dee Daniels - Dee Daniels, one of my favorite people on this earth. To call her merely a vocalist is an understatement. Her performances jump off this CD straight into your blood stream.

And "Midlife Crisis"... you won't forget it!!


John Clayton Jr.  

This recording of Dee's finally shows her in an honest light, doing the 'Dee Thang.' Dee gave the most convincing performances I have ever heard her give on record. She was free and uninhibited. She had FUN with the music and it charged everyone in the room.

Dee is beyond category, although her influences are apparent. She has the strength and power of someone with classical technique, her gospel influence leaps at you from her soul, her jazz swings, her repertoire and knowledge of American songs is expansive and she composes music and lyrics. Her vocal range is seemingly endless, something that many musicians marvel at about her.

Having known Dee since 1980, it is a special pleasure to finally hear her on record the way I know her in live concerts: scintillating!


Norman Simmons  

There have been two vocalists that I felt I could accompany when I first heard their recordings. Carmen McRae and Dakota Staton. Both because of how their feelings communicated to me.

Accompaniment to me is not just a gig. It is a relationship. Houston Person reached for that relationship when he put the group together for Dee Daniels. When I hit the first note at rehearsal with her, it felt so good, and so right, and it got better as the ideas flowed and the other members of the group joined.

It was not only her voice, her swing, her soul; but her musicianship as well. Our communication was fluid. She knew what the band was doing and what to do about it vocally. I was comfortable and confident playing for her. However, when she sat at the piano to demonstrate the feeling on 'Love Ain't Love Without You', I said to her, "You must play this one yourself." Her feelings on that song and her piano accompaniment was personal and deeper than I could reach. And, as we say in the Ghetto, "Lord, have mercy, it feels so good."


Kenny Washington  

This wasn't just a typical recording session. It was a musical party among friends. Needless to say, I had a ball making music with Dee and these master musicians. Thanks for the good time Dee.


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