Jazz2Love by Susan Frances
“White Sails Blue Skies is a spellbinding offering… Brimming with romantic ambience, audiences instantly trust and discern her genuine nature. Having written seven of the ten tracks on the release, Dennis's arrangements are spellbinding. White Sails Blue Skies demonstrates Dennis’s assets as a penetrative vocalist with the melodic sensibilities of an aged soul and the songwriting attributes of a enthralling troubadour.”
Album: White Sails Blue Skies
Artist: Tanya Dennis
Label: PaLoma Records
Starlight and moonbeams are some of the images that singer-songwriter-violinist-guitarist Tanya Dennis' music on her 2021 release White Sails Blue Skies conjures up in the listener's mind. Brimming with romantic ambiences throughout the recording, Dennis resonates a wise, old soul in her voicing that audiences instantly trust and discern her genuine nature. Having written seven of the ten tracks on the release, Dennis's arrangements are spellbinding.
Densely populated in atmospheric ethers, the music puts listeners in a reflective mood as Dennis's vocals caress the dreamy swells of "Desolation Sound" with a soothing touch, transitioning into the island sway of "Indigo," penned by her good friend and Hall of Fame songwriter Kostas, as her creamy vocal texture is spangled in Hendrik Meurkens's buoyant harmonica twirls. Dwelling in the dreamlight part of the jazz spectrum, Dennis welcomes the sultry Latin fare of "Slow Reckless Tango," basking in the flamenco aura projected by David Martin's nylon string guitar as she plays the violin with uninhibited sentiment.
The rustic, country trimmings of "The World Can Do Without Us," written by Ronnie Hughes, infiltrate the listener's soul as Dennis's vocals supply the siren's lure. The Caribbean hues of Dann Sherrill's percussion tottering along "Till You" is rimmed in Meurkens's harmonica furls, and switches to a Latin-inspired shuffle across "Where You Are." The luxurious atmosphere created by nylon string and acoustic guitars elevates the senses.
Dennis strums together elements of jazz, samba, tango, country, and blues, illuminating a romantic verve. A followup to her two previous solo endeavors, Waterdance in 1999 and Apartment 9 in 2003, White Sails Blue Skies is a spellbinding offering that she dedicates to her idol harmonica master Toots Thielemans.
Dennis shows she has music is in her DNA. Her grandmother was an Evangelist who recorded gospel music for Chicago’s King label in the 1950s, and her mother, also a singer, performed with Jack Teagarden and also recorded several projects. White Sails Blue Skies demonstrates Dennis’s assets as a penetrative vocalist with the melodic sensibilities of an aged soul and the songwriting attributes of a enthralling troubadour.
The Jazz Owl by Travis Rogers, Jr.
“The music is moving and touching, romantic and reflective. Tanya’s voice is soothing, warm and wonderful. She delivers on the moods she seeks to evoke. The band interprets it all seamlessly for her. She effortlessly navigates the waters between tango, Carib music, and Jazz and she gives respect and light to every note she sings and plays. There is no one with whom to compare Tanya.”
Tanya Dennis - White Sails Blue Skies
"White Sails, Blue Skies" - this is the title of this album - romance! Alas, most of us relish this romance at home, on the couch, with the TV remote in hand, in the programs of National Geographic, Discovery and the like. Not that the creator of the album White Sails Blue Skies Tanya Dennis. She really sailed the expanses of the Caribbean Sea, and then decided on a longer journey on a fifty-foot yacht. Tanya also stormed the alpine peaks in Europe, and her husband belongs to a narrow circle of people who made a single sea voyage around the world.
Music for Tanya is a hereditary occupation. Her grandmother, a believing evangelist, recorded gospel music on the King label in the 50s, her mother, also a singer, performed with Jack Teagarden. Tanya herself began performing professionally at the age of 16. The musical career of the singer and violinist, performing mostly songs of her own composition, is also full of wanderings. She studied the intricacies of jazz theory and violin playing at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She then studied and performed for a while in Miami, then Seattle, and finally took root in the country music capital of Nashville, Tennessee. Dennis released her first albums a long time ago: Waterdance in 1999, and Apartment 9 in 2003. The impetus for the creation of a new album with new songs was just the sea voyage, which gave Tanya fresh impressions.
To record the album, she brought in local musicians from Nashville, and also specially invited Hendrik Meurkens, the harmonica king from New York. The sound of his instrument and Tanya's violin noticeably diversify the sound of this project, where, first of all, the strong and beautiful voice of the vocalist reigns. Tanya Dennis herself composed seven songs out of nine. Stylistically, I would classify the music of the album as a crossover. Here jazz is very closely intertwined with country, Latin, folk music. Her Slow Reckless Tango sounds very impressive in the performance of Tanya Dennis, the song Where You Are is of particular interest when you learn that Tanya composed it especially for her husband during his trip around the world. Well, fans of classical jazz will surely appreciate the singer's scat in the final track All to Myself.
The Jazz Room: Tanya Dennis (lahabitaciondeljazz.blogspot.com)
Tanya Dennis is a vocalist, songwriter, violinist, guitarist, record producer and music arranger. Over the years she has explored various musical genres: Jazz, Samba, Afro Cuban, Gypsy, Irish, Electronic, Tango, Flamenco, Rock, Country, Funk, Fusion and R&B among others.
Her grandmother, The Rev. Iva Harris, recorded several 78 rpms on the King Record Label in the 1940s and 1950s, playing guitar and violin. Her mother, Alene Aleta Harris (Dennis), also a vocalist who recorded several albums and performed with Jack Teagarden in the 1940s.
To date she had released "Waterdance" (1999) an album covering jazz, blues, country and American folk music and "Apartment #9" (2003) of country music.
She has just released her third album, "White Sails Blue Skies" (2021) which we could label as World Fusion and Smooth Jazz.
With this work pays tribute artists such as Chaka Kahn, Sting, Jean-Luc Ponty, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Chris Smither, Joao Gilberto, Gypsy Kings, Joni Mitchell to name a few.
But above all, it pays homage to Toots Thielemans (her greatest musical influence). "When he released his ' The Brasil Project Volumes 1 & 2", I was hooked on both Toots and his music. Just before White Sails blue Skies was finished, I contacted Toots and asked him to be my guest star on this project. Sadly, he had just retired and passed away a short time later," says Dennis.
The theme with which the album opens is entitled "Chiaroscura" and is inspired by the term used in the visual arts to describe the play of lights and shadows watching the full moon reflecting in the water. A beautiful ballad where the piano, guitar and Dennis' voice are developed in a perfect balance.
"Till You" refers to finding your soulmate, the satisfaction you feel when you find the orange stocking. Meurkens (Ray Brown, Paquito D'Rivera, Herb Ellis, Herbie Mann, James Moody, Charlie Byrd...) with the harmonica, gives that point Thielemans to the song. And that inclination is reflected in the next topic. Unrequited love also has its place in this beautiful album, "Slow Reckless Tango" so it reminds us. Dennis plays the violin she studied at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "I've been particularly attracted to Brazilian music, ethnic fusion and Latin music since the 1980s," says Dennis. And that taste for Latin music is reflected, among others, in this song that recalls the so-called "Spanish song" and where she plays the castanets.
Dennis is a lover of sailing, diving, fishing and everything related to nautical. Dennis' husband is another avid sailor who crosses oceans alone. She wrote "Where You Are" for him. Latin song.
Just over a decade ago, after a series of life-changing events for Dennis, she bought Winterhawk, a 50-foot sailboat, and set sail for the Caribbean and Pacific Northwest. "I needed to reinvent my life musically and personally," says Dennis.
"White Sails" is the song that best reflects that love for the sea. With her warm voice, she transmits to us that love and the feeling of sailing through those seas.
"The World Can Do Without Us Today," one of two songs Dennis does not sign, was written by Ronnie Hughes, who wrote it as a country song, but Dennis' arrangements make it a nice jazz ballad.
"Indigo" is the second song not composed by Dennis, signed by her good friend Kostas Lazarides. It's nice to hear Dennis' voice wrapped up by her colleagues. Another nice topic.
In "Desolation Sound" she tells us how a scoundrel broke her heart. She discovered his deception while sailing in the marvelous place called Desolation Sound in British Columbia. Again Dennis picks up the violin to express those moments of desolation and reach our hearts.
The album ends with "All to Myself" written for a close friend whom she loves very much.
Tanya's voice is soft, warm and wonderfully close. It reflects very well the moods that reflect their themes.
White Sails Blue Skies is a tribute to the sea and the sky, love and nostalgia and in this work she shows us her experiences, the good and the less good.
As Dennis says "The world is full of music and I love crossing cultural and musical boundaries. It is a universal language and a treasure to give and share." Tanya Dennis shares this album and delights us with her music.
The Jazz Room
bebop spoken here: Album review: Tanya Dennis - White Sails Blue Skies (lance-bebopspokenhere.blogspot.com)
Album review: Tanya Dennis - White Sails Blue Skies
Difficult to define. Not quite totally jazz and not quite totally not jazz if that makes sense. Dennis has a wistful voice that grabs you gently. It's a caress rather than a bear hug, one that stays with you long after the in your face performers have faded.
Seven of the nine songs are compositions by the singer who also impresses on violin. There's some fine chromatic harp blowing by Meurkens and the various guitarists add additional colour to what is a most enjoyable listening experience.
As an interesting footnote, Tanya Dennis is also an avid sailor who, after purchasing a 50-foot sailboat (as one does), set sail around the Keys, Bahamas and Caribbean. It was a trip she took to reinvent herself musically and personally. The music on this album is a result of that journey - it worked! Lance.
Now available via usual suspects.
Chiarascuro; Till You; Slow Reckless Tango; Where You Are; White Sails; The World Can do Without us (Ronnie Hughes); Indigo (Kosta Lazarides); Desolation Sound; All to Myself.
White Sails Blue Skies
Jazz, samba, tango, gypsy and blues are just a few of the musical genres, rhythms and styles that Tanya Dennis blends on her latest release titled White Sails Blue Skies. The vocalist/violinist, guitarist and composer pays tribute to the great Toots Thielemans via 9 tracks several which features the virtuoso harmonica player Hendrik Meurkens. This recording is definitely a showcase for Tanya’s exceptional vocals and multi-instrumental talents. She no only sings but plays the violin, castanets and prayer bowl alongside nine other musicians. She also produced, arranged and wrote 7 of the 9 songs.
Most memorable is “Slow Reckless Tango,” for its enticing guitar work by David Martin, Billy Panda and percussion by Darin Sherrill. Tanya’s brief but beautiful violin solos heighten the resonance of this lovely song which also includes her handclaps and castanets. “White Sails” is a smooth gem of a ballad that floats along as if you were on a gentle cruise to your favorite destination.
Overall, White Sails Blue Skies is a superb vehicle for Tanya Dennis’ exemplary talents. Keep in touch with Tanya at www.tanyadennis.com
TANYA DENNIS/White Sails Blue Skies: An eclectic musical chameleon with many interests finds herself in a Michael Franks bag mixing smooth jazz with a tropical vibe bottomed by vocals to match. Easy rolling, almost cinematic jazz by a gal that never felt a need to play by the rules, she goes her own way here and the maps she unfurls are too beguiling to pass up. One of those records that underscore what a grown up summer sounds like.
Volume 45/Number 237
June 25, 2021
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2021 Midwest Record
Music Log by Michael Doherty
Tanya Dennis: “White Sails Blue Skies” – Tanya Dennis is a vocalist and violinist, as well as songwriter, and her new album features mostly original material. Titled White Sails Blue Skies, the music here right the beginning has the feeling of being out on a sail boat, near islands, away from the bustle and concerns of the city. In that first song, “Chiaroscura,” she sings “We ebb and we flow/Like the moon on the water/Life shapes and shifts/Tide and drift.” That features some nice work on both guitar and piano, but it is Tanya Dennis’ warm voice that we latch onto as we travel through the world of this music. Accomplished harmonica player Hendrik Meurkens joins Tanya Dennis on “Till You,” a love song about finding that special someone. “I’d be permanently blue/Till you.” Meurkens is giving plenty of opportunity to do what he does best on this track, and there is also some wonderful work on guitar. On the beautiful and haunting “Slow Reckless Tango,” we get to hear Tanya Dennis on violin. The album’s title track, “White Sails,” has a smooth, pleasant vibe. “Clear morning/Out on the bay/The breezes are blowing/Blowing our way.” “The World Can Do Without Us Today” is one of only two songs on this release not composed by Tanya Dennis. This one was written by Ronnie Hughes, and features Hendrik Meurkens on harmonica. Meurkens also contributes his excellent playing to the other track not written by Tanya Dennis, “Indigo.” “Desolation Sound” has an undeniable allure, and features some beautiful work by Tanya Dennis on violin. I also like Scott Halgren’s work on piano. The disc concludes with “All To Myself,” which has a cheerful vibe. “Maybe this is something I should ignore ‘til I come to my senses/And get my feet back under me/What a delicious distraction.” This album is scheduled to be released on June 25, 2021.