Based in Austin, TX, Dena Taylor is a jazz vocalist who harkens back to the days of smoke-filled clubs and smoky-voiced chanteuses. Her sound is solid; without a lot of vocal gymnastics in the Jazz Standards she covers. She inhabits the songs and makes them her own - feeling happiness, anger, joy, sorrow, love and hate. She draws listeners in and allows them to relate to these songs all over again. Dena was named "Best Female Jazz Artist of the Year" by Indie Music Channel in 2014. Her album "The Nearness of You" showcases her vocal talents and reminds us that even though she is a "seasoned" artist singing Standards, these songs don't lose their ability to move and touch the audience just because they may have fallen out of vogue.
Dena is so full of passion for these songs that her jovial attitude can't help but be contagious. An engaging personality, Dena wants to share her love of Jazz Standards and the American Songbook with her audience. She has honed her craft over the years - spending 12 years abroad serving her country in the US military and, whenever possible, performing with touring USO shows. Then, upon her return, Dena settled in Florida where she took to the stage as a member of the prestigious Cocoa Village Playhouse "Gold Star" company. She also began to reestablish her solo career and released her cd "Round Midnight" in 2008. With a voice that contains a bit of a knowing edge reminiscent of Gladys Knight in her prime, Dena became a "go to" vocalist for national Jazz and Blues groups touring in Florida.
After relocating to Austin, TX, Dena continued her collaboration with some of the best musicians in the jazz and blues genres including GRAMMY® Award Winners and Gold Record® holders: guitarist Redd Volkaert, keyboardist Floyd Domino and drummer Ernie Durawa. Volkaert and Durawa both worked on her second album, "Certitude" in 2010. One of the tracks from this effort, "Song for My Father," was rewarded with an IAIRA Certification of "International Top 100 Hit" shortly after its release.The team worked so well together that Dena chose to work with them for her next record in 2014, "The Nearness of You." She was subsequently named one of the Top Five Vocalists in the SingersUniverse " Best Vocalist of The Month" Competition, in addition to the aforementioned IMC 2014 Best Female Jazz Artist of the Year Award.
The path to success hasn't been an easy one for Dena. She is a disabled veteran and has most recently stepped out of the shadows about that in recent years (please take the time to click on the Honor Flight button in the menu of her webpage to learn about that program AND to also learn about her personal experience with the Austin chapter).
In 1999 she suffered a horrific car crash, resulting in a traumatic brain injury. The damage was so severe that it took Dena two years to learn to speak and walk again. Learning not to be paralyzed by the fear of what "might happen" has kept Dena moving forward and gives her vocals a ripened maturity that just isn't found in the pop stars of today.
In 2015 Dena joined forces with Austin powerhouse friends to take a musical walk from her beginnings in country and ending tucked inside the American Songbook where she most happily lives. No last minute throw-together, "You've Changed" (released January 2016) is a carefully thought out project and, whether it's the last music she records or not .. it will certainly be one of her best. In a pre-release review, Bree Noble (CEO of Women of Substance Radio) said, "With the opening notes of "You've Changed," it's clear that what has changed is that Dena Taylor has confidently taken the reins of her music career and is making bold, risky decisions that are paying off."
Her 2 newest releases (01/05/19) are available here on Broadjam.
Review: The Nearness of Your by
Pre-release Review 02/04/14:
Dena Taylor explores the varying levels of personal intimacy through both her song selection and masterful delivery of these Jazz Standards on The Nearness of You. From the first bars of "When October Goes," the piano gently leads the listener into Taylor's first silky vibrato, and from that point on there is no choice but to give in to her melodic journey. Taylor's singing on this track evokes a sense of nostalgia and seclusion, as if one is sitting in a smoke-filled Jazz nightclub watching the moments drift softly into the abyss and waiting for a lost love that is not going to show. She follows this with the more ironically up-beat "Solitude." Echoing the timbres and style of the great Billie Holliday, she explores another glimpse towards nostalgia that arouses the sense of such a longing, and the sweet side of a bittersweet feeling. The juxtaposition of these two tracks right from the start demonstrates not only the strong range of her Jazz repertoire, but also a deeper understanding of the versatility of feeling that can be conveyed given similar subject matter.
A distinct shift in tone and sentiment comes with Taylor's rendition of the sultry "Besame Mucho." The listener, mentally transported to a charming Latin club somewhere on the Central American coast, feels the gentle swells in both her band's accompaniment and her lyrical delivery. The feel is cool, mellifluously smooth, and triggers a wonderful sensation of something foreign, yet universal though music. This leads directly into the title track, "The Nearness of You." Taylor has led the listener from nostalgia through longing, and lands us in the ephemeral and warm spirit of Ella Fitzgerald with this track. She leaves room for her accompanying musicians to tastefully explore and muse with the form, and then takes up the mantel herself, commenting melodically through her own expression of tenderness.
The shift in subject matter that occurs with "Do Nothing Til You Hear From Me" marks a turning point towards reflection in this journey. The very feelings of longing and solitude that drive one to find and explore passion also lead down roads of trepidation, and the remaining tracks convey that distance from the build to "nearness." There is no clearer example of this than her choice to follow with "If I Love Again." Taylor echoes the sentiment conveyed in the opening tracks, but with a new understanding and exploration of those feelings. Closing out with Ray Noble's "The Very Thought of You" comments on the cycle of the journey The Nearness of You embarks upon from the outset. The distance between longing and love, nearness and solitude, tenderness and indifference, comes full circle when looked at through the wider lens of the album as a whole.
Musically, Taylor executes these Jazz standards with an ear towards the past, but an eye towards the sentiment. What's most striking is how she blends a range of styles within the Jazz genre to explore exactly what "nearness" implies both semantically and emotionally. The longing for nearness, the distance from nearness, and the ambivalence of nearness are all metaphorically and harmonically commented upon in a subtle way that does not demand a trained ear to decipher, but does reward one.
Samuel Marvin, MA Humanities - University of Chicago
Review: The Nearness of You by S
Pre-release Review (01/27/14):
Veteran singer Dena Taylor has experienced a great deal in her life including spending 12 years overseas as a soldier in the military (when it did not interfere with the work that she was doing, she had the opportunity to sing with touring USO shows that were in the field of operations where she was deployed), surviving a terrible car accident after returning to the US, and developing into a very effective ballad and standards singer who puts a lot of feeling into her interpretations of lyrics. She gained recognition during her period in Florida and is currently based in Austin, Texas. Ms. Taylor has recorded several CDs of which The Nearness Of You is her most recent.
Accompanied by several different rhythm sections which include some of the top jazz players in Texas, Dena Taylor performs ten timeless standards on The Nearness Of You. With fine support and excellent solos from her sidemen, particularly guitarists Grammy winner Redd Volkaert and Rick McRae and pianist David Chao, she excels on a variety of high-quality material. Most of the songs are taken at slower tempos and put the spotlight on Ms. Taylor's heartfelt ballad singing. While she puts a lot of feeling and sensitivity into the lyrics, she never overwhelms the material and instead lets the words speak for themselves.
Among the highlights are "When October Comes," a pretty version of "But Beautiful," "For All We Know" and a superb rendering of "The Nearness Of You." Bossa nova treatments of "Besame Mucho" and "The Look Of Love" give variety to the set of pleasing and memorable music.
Lovers of superior ballad singing will definitely want to acquire Dena Taylor's The Nearness Of You.
Scott Yanow, author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers, the Great Jazz Guitarists, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76.
Review: The Nearness of You by B
Pre-release Review (01/23/14):
Listening to Dena Taylor's new album "The Nearness of You" is like eavesdropping on a conversation between two lovers. The ease of the "back and forth" exchange between Dena and the jazz ensemble demonstrates their commitment to each other and the integrity of the music.
Dena sings these standards with passion and care, like a mother cradles a newborn. Her vocals are both sultry and lyrical with a signature vibrato akin to the female crooners of old.
Some standout tracks include the title track, "Solitude", "Besame Mucho" and "The Look of Love" just to name a few. But listen to the album in its entirety to be transported to another time and place for an hour. You'll be glad you took the journey.
Bree Noble, Women of Substance Radio
Newest Release: The Nearness of
Austin, TX (PRWEB) February 12, 2014
A superior ballad and standards singer, Dena Taylor is releasing her latest recording, The Nearness Of You, on Valentine's Day (http://www.denataylormusic.com). A set comprised of ten classic standards, the performances feature the appealing singer uplifting the timeless material while accompanied by some of Texas' finest jazz musicians.
Dena Taylor puts plenty of emotion and understanding into her interpretations of lyrics and one can certainly imagine the composers of the songs that she interprets loving her. She lets the words speak for themselves while adding understated feeling and a solid sense of swing.
With excellent accompaniment and meaningful solos by such players as guitarists Grammy winner Redd Volkaert and Rick McRae and pianist David Chao, Dena Taylor is heard at her best throughout The Nearness Of You. The program includes such pieces as "When October Comes," Duke Ellington's "Solitude," a haunting rendition of "But Beautiful," "Besame Mucho" and a particularly memorable version of "The Nearness Of You." The second half of the set includes Ellington's "Do Nothing Til You Hear From Me," "If I Love Again," a touching "For All We Know," a bossa-nova flavored "The Look Of Love, and "The Very Thought Of You."
Taylor's road to success has been hard-won, even inspirational. Taylor spent twelve years abroad in the military, combining her years of service with a series of low-profile concert and event gigs. She also accepted invitations to sing with touring USO shows whenever it was compatible with her military schedule.
Upon leaving the military, Taylor found herself in a violent car accident that left her with a severe brain injury requiring a full two years to regain her ability to speak and walk again. And, since that time, she has also waged her own personal battle against breast cancer.
While in Florida she became an important part of the music scene. She also recorded her award-winning CD, Round Midnight. In 2009, Dena Taylor relocated to Austin, Texas where she recorded her second award winning CD, Certitude. And released Hymns For Hunger (a collection of three hymns that benefit Feeding America's Give A Meal) and It's Christmas (a set of holiday songs that benefit The Dog and Cat Cancer Fund).
The release of The Nearness Of You, Dena Taylor's finest recording to date, will solidify her reputation as a wonderful ballad singer.
For more information on Dena Taylor and The Nearness Of You, please visit: http://www.denataylormusic.com. Media/Music Professionals: DPK's are available.
To see complete press release: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/02/prweb11550613.htm
Certitude Press Release
March 1, 2010
CELEBRATED JAZZ VOCALIST DENA TAYLOR RELEASES
ALBUM "CERTITUDE" TODAY
Critics Already Singing Praises for Artist's Sophomore Album
Austin, TX - DA Productions is thrilled to announce today's release of Certitude, the second album from jazz vocalist Dena Taylor. Combining jazz, country and easy listening, this compilation of standards makes a great addition for a dinner party or the soundtrack to a romantic evening with someone special.
Certitude is made up of 11 country-inspired jazz tracks featuring collaborations with an impressive roster of guest artists including Redd Volkaert (2009 Grammy® Award winner for Best Country Instrumental Performance) who contributes to the album's country influence and Texas Music Hall of Fame member Ernie Durawa (a jazz drummer who has played with the great bassist Gene Ramey, trumpeter Clark Terry and guitar masters Herb Ellis, Charlie Byrd, Pat Martino, Jackie King and Larry Coryell).
Four members of the highly regarded Rock/Americana/Jazz band, The Monstas, use their formidable talents on each track be it as bassist, drummer, percussionist or guitarist.
"I'm extremely proud of this album, and I'm looking forward to finally being able to share it with my fans," said Taylor. "I'm especially excited about having had the opportunity to work with such amazing artists."
Certitude has already been called "a wonderful addition to any music library" by MyMusicSuccess.com and "an album definitely not to be missed" by Daybox Records. Reviewer, Rosana Caban, says, "This will easily be embraced by fans of jazz who wouldn't mind a bit of country in their lives AND fans of country who wouldn't mind a little jazz in theirs."
Taylor's first album, the award winning Round Midnight, was welcomed with rave reviews in 2008. Critics have applauded her as a "splendid surprise," and have said that "her performances are in a class of their own."
Listen to either of her albums and you can tell Taylor is comfortable and at ease with her music. She obviously taps into her personal experiences to breathe life & emotional depth into each song she sings whether it's a smoky love song or some swinging up-tempo, snap-your-fingers number.
In addition to providing her beautiful vocals on Certitude, Taylor is also a talented artist, having designed all of the artwork for the album. She is also a dedicated humanitarian, lending her support to a number of causes that support others who have endured adversity or are in the midst of their challenges. She is currently working with international recording artist Jonathan Emile to develop a cross-genre single that will be an Internet release, with proceeds benefiting The Ronald McDonald Houses in the U.S., as well as Coast-to-Coast, a Canadian non-profit organization supporting children with cancer.
Certitude is available for purchase on:
Certitude Review by Rosana Caban
Independent Review by Rosana Caban for MyMusicSuccess.com
Dena Taylor's Certitude is 11 tracks of unpretentious, well-performed country inspired jazz. The songs are considered standards, but they emanate a rich southern flavor that isn't often associated with a standard jazz tune.
The album features Redd Volkaert (2009 Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance) and drummer Ernie Durawa (Gold Record Drummer of "The Sir Douglas Quintet" and "The Texas Tornados"). Both bring a unique perspective to the album, adding to its country influence.
Rather than give us a collection of standards, Dena gives us a cohesive album that flows from one track to the next. She has the experience to know how to please a listener with her voice, which is not unlike Carly Simon, especially in the tracks "I Thought About You" and "The Man I Love." The simplicity of her performances showcases how control and poise can sometimes resonate stronger than over-the-top vocal performances.
She makes a strong emotional connection in "I Forget You Every Day" and the listener benefits from it. The amount of tremolo on the guitar in "One For My Baby (and One for the Road)" is a bit distracting, but otherwise the album's production and mixing are incredibly good.
The instrumental performances cannot be ignored. They truly make this album an absolute must-have. In particular, the performance on "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars" by Matt Smith on guitar is too good to ignore. The performances on "Teach Me Tonight" are also noteworthy.
Dena features two duets on the album with Redd Volkaert in "Here We Go Again" and Matt Smith in "Teach Me Tonight". Volkaert and Smith have solid vocal skills, but they're outshined by their own guitar performances, and by Dena's stronger, more experienced vocal command.
This album is a wonderful addition to any music library. This will easily be embraced by fans of jazz who wouldn't mind a bit of country in their lives AND fans of country who wouldn't mind a little jazz in theirs. ####
Certitude Review by Max Maffia,
Elegant Nocturne (Certitude - Dena Taylor)
Pre-release Review of Certitude (Artist: Dena Taylor)
By Max Maffia, Daybox Records, www.dayboxrecords.com
I'm on my way back from six hours in the recording studio. I'm in the car as usual - exhausted - but happy and full of inspiration. It's time to slip into my iPod headphones and let myself be soothed by the notes that precede the night.
I'm already familiar with the class of Dena Taylor and the warmth of her voice and I've only traveled a few yards when I find myself asking, "What'll I Do?" and letting the slide guitar transport me into unexpected and unknown lands. Narrowing the gap between country music and jazz classics, this highly successful experiment is as elegant as always (just listen to Dena's debut album, Round Midnight, for confirmation).
Only a few minutes have passed by and the night is calm and "the sky's a blackboard high above us" and I ask the sky to "Teach Me Tonight!" A wonderful duet with Matt Smith (voice, guitar, dobro), accompanied by the rhythmic hand of Ernie Durawa.
This sensual episode makes way for the latin "Sway" masterfully performed, forgive me if it's not among my favorite tracks, and I move on instead to an exquisite moment of reflection in "I Forget You Every Day." The track starts up with the line "memory is a gift man can't live without" and I catch myself thinking just how true that is as Redd Volkaert (2009 Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance) on the guitar makes all the difference, helping us to understand that there are "times we can't control the things we think about."
Then, with home looming on the horizon, everything flows into the notes of Gershwin and his marvelous "The Man I Love." Here Dena returns to her great love and you can't help but realize it. I wish my journey would last longer. This track is a masterpiece. I listen to it again and, as I listen, I am more and more convinced that both the night and I "won't say a word."
I'm half way home and happier than I was earlier. It's so hard these days to find something that genuinely transmits strong emotions. I ought to stop and think about it but everything moves on so quickly and you can't get left behind. Even the night has decided to increase its rhythm and I feel that pressing need to get home until "Song for My Father" reminds me that I am in a Mediterranean country and that it will never get cold and that there's no need to rush.
The album moves on smoothly, highlighting the quality of the artist and her musicians. A touching "Send in the Clowns" opens the second part of this album and a dreamy "I Thought About You" takes me through to this "Quiet Night of Quiet Stars". No other song could be a more fitting soundtrack for how I'm feeling right now: "quiet nights and quiet dreams, quiet walks by quiet streams". Then, with a final return to those classics which have somehow touched us all, "One for My Baby (and one for the road)." Rounding off the album, with the same successful line-up of Redd Volkaert and Ernie Durawa used earlier, is "Here We Go Again."
I arrive home with a new desire: to see these musicians live and to live these emotions as I watch them play. As with Dena Taylor's debut album, Round Midnight, this album is definitely not to be missed and the "Certitude" lies in the fact that its wealth of passion transcends even the technical excellence of the musicians involved and that I, in the meantime, can sleep sweet dreams. ####