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A powerhouse singer

Rhyme, Rhythm & Reason
Rhyme, Rhythm & Reason
By Dennis Rowland

Concord Records: 1995

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This review first appeared in the July 7, 1995 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

The last featured singer for Count Basie's big band while the great leader was still alive, Dennis Rowland never got much mileage from that gig. Oh, sure, he got to play with some of the best musicians in jazz, but he recorded only two songs with Basie, and during live performances was often shunted aside for guest singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett or Sarah Vaughan.

To bad. It's been 11 years since Rowland left the Basie outfit, and he hasn't recorded in the interim. His is a rich voice, impassioned yet in control. He is, in fact, a master jazz singer and it's a shame we've not had an earlier opportunity to hear him.

Stylistically, Rowland is fairly traditional. In his singing, we hear the strains of Joe Williams and Billy Eckstine, with a touch of Lou Rawls thrown in. The song selection on his new release is also fairly traditional – with covers of "This Can't Be Love," "I'm Just a Lucky So and So" and "Angels Eyes." On the other hand, he brings a contemporary touch to covers of "All in Love Is Fair" and Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love." And there's a nice touch of gender role reversal in his powerhouse reading of Ida Cox's "Wild Women (Don't Have the Blues)."