“Dena DeRose Trio” Concert Review

On Sunday, February 21, 2010 I attended the jazzy Dena DeRose Trio Concert at the Esther Simplot Academy. It was sponsored by the Boise Jazz Society.

The trio consisted of Dena DeRose (Piano, Vocals), Matt Wilson (percussion), and Martin Wind. Some little info about Dena DeRose: She started learning classical piano, but found interest in jazz while in Junior High. While in college she would practice a ton and give private lessons. She then became diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, which required surgery and made her give up the piano. After her surgery, she started singing and then added that to her piano skills, which she then took to New York City and was widely acclaimed. Since then she has released 5 albums and become nationally acclaimed as a songwriter and musician.

Tickets were originally $20 for a student ($45 originally) but I had the opportunity to get free tickets by helping set up the concert hall and take it down. I got there at around 1:00 and helped set up chairs, tables, etc. While helping set up I met Tom Tompkins, Director of Facilities and principal violist of the Boise Philharmonic. We talked whilst setting up, and I found out that he knew my professor, Justin Stamps. I then counted the chairs we had out (180) to make sure there were enough for pre-sold tickets, Jazz Society members, and expected walk-ins. After helping clean up, I went back home to put on my jazzy attire and get ready for the concert.

I arrived promptly at 6:00 pm at the Esther Simplot Academy to help be the bouncer / usher. I would check the people for tickets and either let them in or “bounce” them. People started arriving around 6:30 and filled up the place pretty quickly. It was definitely a full house.

The concert started a little bit late (7:15 or so) mostly because a member of the Boise Jazz Society, Mike Samball, had about 10 minutes of announcements to relay to the Boise Jazz Society members and other guests..  I watched the concert from the entryway, so I got a side view of the trio. The concert consisted of 13 songs and an encore, and each song lasted an average of 5-6 minutes. Overall, I thought that most of the songs sounded very similar to one another. I really enjoyed Dena DeRose’s voice. Her piano playing and improvising was quite spectacular, including crazy fast arpeggios and complex chords. Most of the music was homophonic, her voice being the melody, but I heard some of the bass line and caught a little polyphony. I thought that some parts of the drumming were very experimental, especially during the improvised parts of each piece. They played a variety of genres, from blues to be-bop and some jazz genres that I haven’t really heard before. Most of the songs were on the slow side, and were very rhythmically and dynamically flowing. I also caught her using word painting a few times with her music. One example is when she used the word “Sorrow” and descended in pitch with a ritardando. Some of the songs even ended with dissonance, not going back to the consonant key. One funny part I noticed was that the drummer would laugh or yell “Hey!” randomly during a solo. I have no idea why, but I thought it was pretty hilarious. While watching the concert I caught up with a guy named Landon who plays saxophone for the Boise Big Band. He asked me if I would like to play piano for the band when the regular pianist was not able to make it, and I said I’d like to. He said he’d talk to me after the concert about it, but ended up leaving early, so I never got a chance to talk to him, which was kind of a bummer.

After the concert, I stayed for about 2 hours to help clean up. Some other college students were there to help clean up that weren’t there before when we were setting up for the concert. I helped by taking out the trash and removing chairs, tables, and putting them in the basement storage room. Overall, I had a great time and didn’t really mind the 4 hours of volunteering to get in to the concert for free.