RHYTHM & VIEWS (01-11-2007)
By Gene Armstrong
DIANE VAN DEURZEN
I Never Knew
Idealized romanticism, frank sensuality and a realistic sense of heartbreak are some of the themes among the original tunes and standards performed by Tucson jazz-pop torch singer Diane Van Deurzen on her debut album.
Van Deurzen's originals, the lush title track and sly, sexy "Walk My Honey Path," co-written with pianist Lisa Otey, are the real deal--sterling examples of cabaret charm imbued with Van Deurzen's delicate, perfectly modulated and controlled--but also slightly bluesy--vocals.
"Song That Can Never Be Sung," written by saxophonist Carla Brownlee, offers a warm, comforting jazz meditation with masterly piano trio accompaniment by Otey, bassist Steve Grams and especially drummer Fabrice Bessouat, whose restrained style is ideal for this material.
Although her style recalls the classic jazz divas, Van Deurzen actually can turn a phrase with the precision and warm intimacy of Karen Carpenter. Van Deurzen's one of the finest instinctually pure singers I have heard since that hallowed '70s pop stylist.
She carefully treads the thin line that separates endearing torch-carrying from obsessive love, as on "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," or "Where Time Stands Still," in which remorse and regret are tempered by fond memories.
The deliciously languorous "A Sunday Kind of Love" hearkens back to a time when class and sophistication characterized the best jazz singers. Perhaps the finest and most heartfelt track is "That Lucky Old Sun," in which Van Deurzen flirts with a gospel soulfulness, and Otey plays rich chords that sound as if they were transported to 2007 from the antebellum South.