Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I Never Knew, Scott Barker, Tucson Lifestyles

I Never Knew

Some things never go out of style, like the classic combination of a talented jazz quartet performing heartfelt love songs. Tucsonan Diane Van Deurzen proves that point on her latest release, I Never Knew (Owl's Nest Productions). Backed by the multi-talented Lisa Otey, Steve Grams and Fabrice Bessouat, Van Deurzen's voice is warm and soothing, pouring out the lyrics with effortless control. She shows great skill in choosing standards, like the haunting "Autumn Leaves," the wistful "A Sunday Kind of Love," or even the dramatic "Not While I'm Around" from Sondheim's wonderfully macabre Sweeney Todd. Without ever getting syrupy, Van Deurzen manages to pack a lot of emotion into her delivery (many young singers would do well to listen to her version of "That Lucky Old Sun" for notes on how to do that). She is very well served by the instrumentation on this album, especially the piano accompaniment. Fans of Lisa Otey know that she has boogie-woogie chops that can knock you out, but she also is brilliant at the subtle stuff, laying in a delicate melody line that perfectly reflects the meaning of each song. Grams' bass lines, and Bessouat's understated percussion work add layers of meaning, creating a sonic painting that is expertly captured by Jim Brady's mix. Covers aside, Van Deurzen also shows that she has solid songwriting talents with the title track and "Walk My Honey Path," which spotlights Carla Brownlee, Liz McMahon and Regina Wills (and features the powerfully evocative lyrics, "When I sleep, I open my window/ And I beg the moon to press its face against mine/ I invite you to breathe me in/ Press your lips against me/

-Scott Barker, Tucson Lifestyles, February 2007