Charlie Dennard’s “Deep Blue” sparkles with originality

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Pianist, organist and keyboardist Charlie Dennard has released a new album, “Deep Blue.” “Deep Blue” is a collection of original songs. The work is nuanced and shows a fresh take on jazz tropes. The album is fun to listen to. “Fun” here does not mean “light.” The songs can be moody and emotive at times, but they are so well-done, so intricately nuanced that listeners are happily swept up in the mood presented. There are seven songs on “Deep Blue.” Among the best selections are “St Charles Strut” and “Mojave.”

About Charlie Dennard

Dennard is a performer based in New Orleans. He takes a subtle, but relaxed approach to playing. He credits his teacher, the legendary Ellis Marsalis with that approach. Dennard studied with Marsalis in the process of earning his master’s degree in music from the University of New Orleans.

Dennard has performed with a variety of jazz, blues and world music ensembles for more than 20 years. Currently, Dennard is on a year-long European tour as the musical director of Cirque du Soleil’s “Totem.” In the past 15 years, Dennard hasĀ  performed in more than 4,000 shows with Cirque du Soleil.

“Deep Blue” shows Dennard’s attention to craft and commitment to original work. Despite his sometimes busy touring schedule, Dennard still thinks it is important to find time to write and record the music that means the most to him.

“St Charles Strut” by Charlie Dennard

The song opens with a hearty clatter of drums accented by cymbals. A several note-long interlude ushers in a change of soundscape. The piano offers high and sparkling-sounding notes. The bluesy jazz feel of the piece is evident from the first note. The piano work that finds Dennard playing a rapid-fire set of chords is a nice touch. The way this song has a sort of “sway” makes its title make sense. Audiences can imagine people walking or strutting to the beat. The bass and drums and other elements make new sounds toward the end of the song, making the conclusion sound logical.

“Mojave” by Charlie Dennard

Lush and urgent are words that can describe this instrumental. A series of brilliant motifs are introduced and comprise the song that seems to life and breathe with long brass notes and thudding drums. Another motif contains a sprinkling of piano notes among the long notes of a flute that then morph into an understated piano showcase.

The song’s overall beauty might be missed if a listener tries to keep up with all the sounds that Dennard and his ensemble present. But “Mojave” is interesting listening.

The songs on “Deep Blue” could be described as exactly that. However, they are also beautiful and engaging to hear.

 

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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