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Deanna Bogart - Pianoland

Blind Pig Records

11 tracks/40:20

Despite a solo career that spans more than thirty years, Deanna Bogart still does not get the attention that she deserves. A talented singer and songwriter, Bogart is equally adept at getting an audience excited whether she is behind the piano or blowing her tenor sax. Her profile got a serious boost when she toured as part of the original Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue with Tommy Castro, Magic Dick from the J. Geils Band and Ronnie Baker Brooks. Anyone who has been a part of the Blues Cruise experience knows that when Deanna is on board she seems to be everywhere, playing sets with her band, appearing at one jam after another or sitting in with one of her many friends. Her high-energy stage persona makes each one of her performances a memorable occasion.

Her new project – the eighth of her career and third for Blind Pig Records – finds Bogart opting to put her saxophone down to focus on the piano, as you might expect from the title. The program includes six originals plus songs from an eclectic group of composers including Errol Garner, Willie Dixon, Pete Johnson, Harold Arlen and James Taylor. Her instrumental support includes Scott Ambush on electric bass, Mike Aubin on drums, Dan Leonhard on guitar and Jeff Reed on the upright bass.

Blues fans will definitely enjoy the rousing version of Garner's instrumental, “Boogie Woogie Boogie”, with Bogart utilizing a strong left hand to drive the toe-tapping beat. Johnson's “Death Ray Boogie” finds Bogart's nimble fingers weaving intricate lines over a blistering tempo. Her vocal approach on “I Love the Life I Live” bears a resemblance to the Mose Allison style as Bogart raises her jubilant voice in celebration. “Blues at 11” is a solo piano piece that verifies that she can be equally mesmerizing at a slower pace.

The lively pace on the opener, “In the Rain”, matches Bogart's exuberant singing and her hypnotic flourishes on the piano. “On And On And” is more of the same with a deeper, funkier groove as Bogart ponders the meaning of life and love. Her riveting performance on the stark ballad “Couldn't Love You More” portrays the depths of emotion she can conjure up. Her solo interpretation of Arlen's “Over the Rainbow” is another highlight featuring a vocal filled with nuance and impeccable phrasing, creating an emotional landscape that make this one of the best versions you will hear of this classic. “Close Your Eyes” features Bogart's soaring voice coupled with lush piano chords to close the disc in noteworthy fashion.

All that is left is the defining point of the disc, the redemptive title track that crackles with energy and passion as Bogart reflects on her creative vision before slowing the pace for an intimate piano solo. At the end, she whispers, “...Just another journeyman... and that's all right with me.”. Once you have heard Bogart's engrossing blend of boogie-woogie, blues and jazz – what she refers to as “blusion” - you will certainly fall under the spell of her masterful performances and formidable talent that places her well above journeyman status. This triumph may be the finest work of her career and therefore is highly recommended!

Reviewer Mark Thompson retired after twelve years as president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. and moved to Florida. He has been listening to music of all kinds for over fifty years. Favorite musicians include Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Magic Slim, Magic Sam, Charles Mingus and Count Basie.


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