Dena DeRose Biography

15 February 1966, Binghamton, New York, USA. After playing piano as a tiny child, DeRose studied this instrument and also the classical organ. She became interested in jazz and redirected her career in this direction, playing in various clubs where she worked with several noted musicians including bass players Slam Stewart and Major Holley. She formed her own group and was becoming well established in upstate New York when, in 1988, she was obliged to give up playing and undergo a series of surgical operations on her hands. Although unable to play, she continued to lead her band and one night, almost on a whim, she began singing. For the next two years she developed her latent singing talent and when she was able to play piano again continued to feature her vocals. Throughout this period, DeRose was also honing her skills as a songwriter and, in particular, as an arranger. In 1992, she moved to New York City where, during the next few years, she worked with numerous jazz artists such as Randy Brecker, Ingrid Jensen, Bruce Forman, Dottie Dodgion, Al ‘Tootie’ Heath, trombonist Steve Davis and Steve Wilson.

Whether considered as a singer, a pianist, or an arranger, DeRose displays enormous abilities. Considering these talents jointly, her importance to the jazz scene is highly significant. Her voice is an eloquent and melodious instrument and her piano playing, whether as soloist, accompanist, or in that especially difficult role of self-accompanist, is of a consistently high standard. Her arrangements are of particular interest as she regularly finds a satisfying balance between her adventurous musical imagination and the long tradition of modern jazz. By the start of the new millennium, as both writer and performing artist, DeRose was clearly an artist of growing stature and seemingly limitless potential.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.