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Deanna Bogart's "Pianoland"
From Steve Pick, Guest Author
about.com 3.5 star rating
Musical genres were invented as descriptions, not conscriptions. When we say a certain performer is a blues musician, normally that means he or she is playing or singing within the traditions which have been established over the last century. 12-bar forms, flatted thirds and sevenths, a lyrical approach of describing a problem and putting forth a solution which is frequently not the one desired, these are the familiar patterns we see again and again in the world of the blues.
Couldn't Love You More
Deanna Bogart's Pianoland
Deanna Bogart knows how to deal with all of these. For 21 years, she has been recording and touring on the blues circuit, winning awards as a blues saxophonist, pianist, and singer. She established herself as a blues musician, and almost immediately began branching out into other styles. Somewhere along the line, Bogart coined the term “blusion” to describe her forays into boogie-woogie, contemporary blues, country, and jazz. The blues are always in her blood, even when she’s playing music that’s not recognizably part of the blues tradition.
Pianoland is her eighth album (not counting a Christmas record she made with Rick Dempsey a couple years back), and for the first time, she left her tenor sax at home when she went to the recording studio. The songs cover a lot of ground, including some boogie-woogie and blues, but venturing widely into the kind of pop/jazz material that puts her into the same nameless category Bonnie Raitt has inhabited these past couple decades.It’s thoughtful music, seriously crafted, and completely enjoyable.
The album opens with “In the Rain,” a bluesy shuffle rhythm and pumping piano chords which introduce an irresistible melody as Bogart sings of her enthusiastic return home. Her piano solos are clearly jazz-derived with hints of the blues in the specific way she rolls the chords and inserts swift melodic runs in the upper register. “On And On And” follows with ethereal piano notes building into a richly intoxicating R&B groove. It comes from that swampy place inhabited frequently by Tony Joe White or even Creedence Clearwater Revival, but her chorus, with that title phrase that doesn’t quite resolve, adds a sense of surprise. Her piano playing here is especially joyous, full of inventive phrases whether commenting on her vocals or leading to new melodic territory on solos. By the way, her vocal here is especially richly developed, displaying a keen sense of dynamics and ability to sell the song.
Bogart reaches into the catalogue of jazz pianist Errol Garner for "Boogie Woogie Boogie,” an absolutely riveting instrumental which is just a half-step away from Thelonious Monk territory. She’s always been in love with boogie-woogie, but she keeps finding material that challenges her chops and sounds fresh. “Couldn’t Love You More” is a gentle and absolutely gorgeous song that Raitt could have turned into a hit if she’d known it back when Nick Of Time was selling millions of records. You can hear the love oozing out of Bogart’s voice throughout this recording. The groove gets tougher with a country soul feel for "Where The Well Never Runs Dry," another Bogart original of great musical depth and creativity. There are many people out there who dip their toes in as many stylistic waters as Bogart tries, but few who can carry their own voice with them no matter what.This cut also features great interaction between Bogart’s piano, the bass of Scott Ambush, and the drums of Mike Aubin.
I Love The Life I Live
I confess I always thought “I Love The Life I Live” was actually written by Mose Allison, as it’s so closely associated with him and so much in his wheelhouse but it, like so many blues classics, was written by Willie Dixon. Bogart has a blast delivering it here, and her solo is as rich as Allison’s piano but in her own style. Pete Johnson, one of the most important boogie pianists, contributes “Death Ray Boogie” for Bogart to shoot and us to dance. Her version of “Over The Rainbow” follows, and it immediately contends for top ten status in recordings of this song. She imbues it with a sense of wonder and a tone of sorrow that comes straight from the blues, something Judy Garland never had at her musical disposal. Stunning.
“Pianoland,” the album’s title track, sits on the musical map just a little to the south of Weather Report’s “Birdland” and to the west of Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungleland.” At 7:08 of shifting development, it is Bogart’s most ambitious composition on the record, and one of the most enjoyable. “When it all gets turned around and I need to leave the ground/I’m safe and sound in Pianoland.” If your escapes can be this secure and solid, you’re doing pretty well in life. “Blues At 11” is a Bogart instrumental that allows her to imagine herself as the most talented late-night cocktail pianist in any hotel lounge. Her densely-packed melodic runs would go well with clinking glasses, but sound just as good at 11 in the morning in your living room. The record ends with a beautiful James Taylor song, “Close Your Eyes.” Actually, when Taylor sang it on his Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon album, it was called “You Can Close Your Eyes,” but because Bogart so completely inhabits its melancholy hopes for better days, she can call it anything she wants.
Steve's Bottom Line
Those who want blues musicians to stick closely to what has defined the genre may not be happy with Pianoland. The rest of us, however, will applaud her for connecting the dots between the blues and whatever form she visits. R&B, pop standards, jazz, boogie-woogie, country – it’s all grist for the mill of Bogart’s personal approach to music. Pianoland is a triumph of individual expression.
(Blind Pig Records, released August 28, 2012)
"There are many people out there who dip their toes in as many stylistic waters as Bogart tries, but few who can carry their own voice with them no matter what...
R&B, pop standards, jazz, boogie-woogie, country – it’s all grist for the mill of Bogart’s personal approach to music. Pianoland is a triumph of individual expression."
– Steve Pick, About.com
"As deep as Bogart’s musical roots are, Pianoland has enough polish and pop sensibility to appeal to a wider audience.
Here’s to hoping that Deanna Bogart becomes a household name."
–Jon Kleinman, Elmore Magazine
"We fell in love with this CD from the first listen. The music is light and airy. It has space, and that is an integral part of music that many musicians forget to use. We also fell in love with Deanna's piano playing. It's unique, and it's filled with humor and spontaneity."
– Barrelhouse Blues
"The originals all display a thoughtful and creative musical spirit ... This isn't an album of background music. This is music to feel and absorb. Listen closely to every song. Enjoy. This is some fine music."
– Jim White, Post-Gazette.com
"Pianoland is more than just a good album, it’s a really, really good album – maybe even a great album”– by an engaging musical talent."
–Bill Wilcox, Twangville
"...it’s the soulful ballads and sublime pop interpretations that ultimately distinguish “Pianoland” and help make it Bogart’s most rewarding and well-rounded album yet."
– Mike Joyce, The Washington Post
Deanna Bogart: Pianoland
A feature recording artist since the early 1990's, Deanna Bogart keeps
going strong as a likable, unpretentious singer and blues-and-boogie pianist.
Abetted here by bass, drums and guitar, she imparts a deep sense of jubilation or sensitivity to original material and to selections from the annals of piano jazz (Erroll Garner's "Boogie-Woogie Boogie"), Kansas City blues-jazz (Pete Johnson's "Death Ray Boogie") and Chicago blues (WIllie Dixon's "I Love The Life I Live").
Over time Bogart's singing has developed a capacity for intimacy that makes
her own piece "Couldn't Love You More" and her version of James Taylor's
"Close Your Eyes" more than rote exercises in pleasantness.
By Frank-John Hadley
Pianoland (BLIND PIG)
With her spellbinding piano chops, thoughtful songwriting and rich, sultry voice, Deanna Bogart brims with talent and creativity.
Pianoland wonderfully showcases Bogart’s artistry and musicianship.
As a pianist, Bogart excels at seamlessly merging jazz and traditional blues. She can go from barrelhouse boogie riffs to delicate jazz lines all in the space of a few measures. On high-powered instrumentals like “Boogie Woogie Boogie” and “Death Ray Boogie,” Bogart’s hands seem to fly across the keyboard while the rhythm section always stays in the pocket. Original tunes like “In the Rain” and “Where the Well Never Runs Dry” feature heartfelt, insightful lyrics and energetic arrangements that beautifully straddle the line between jazz and blues. A swinging rendition of Willie Dixon’s “I Love the Life I Live” lets Bogart put her personal stamp on a familiar blues warhorse. As deep as Bogart’s musical roots are, Pianoland has enough polish and pop sensibility to appeal to a wider audience.
Here’s to hoping that Deanna Bogart becomes a household name.
Deanna Bogart "Pianoland"
Sept. 2, 2012
Deanna Bogart is a brilliant multi-instrumentalist, adept on piano and sax, with a beautiful vocal delivery. She's graced the stages of the Blues Music Awards (winning the Award for Best Instrumentalist--Horn three years in a row!) and the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise as well as festivals and clubs worldwide. For her latest release for Blind Pig, entitled "Pianoland" she turns in eleven classic performances that showcase her ability as a solo performer. Most of these cuts find her alone at her piano. In the title cut, she sings of a place where she is relaxed and at ease, and that place where she is seemingly at one with the piano is the common thread running thru all the cuts herein. She's right at home with the jazz-blues fusion of "Blues At 11," her tender, original ballad, "Couldn't Love You More," or the full-band arrangement of "Where The Well Never Runs Dry," a tale of looking inside oneself when self-doubt creeps in.
We had several favorites, too. "Boogie Woogie Boogie" and "Death Ray Boogie" show off her mighty left hand, while brush-stroked drums from Mike Aubin and the doghouse bass of Jeff Reed augment the jazzy swing of "I Live The Life I Love." And, Deanna takes the listener into her own personal land of Oz, with her stirring, bluesy take on "Somewhere Over The Rainbow."
Deanna's credo is "nothing hurts creativity like safety," and she holds to this belief on this set, holding nothing back and being unafraid to take chances in her music. That is why this was such a pleasure to listen to--it's the epitome of an artist at the top of her craft, letting all her influences converge in that magical, mystical place called "Pianoland!" Until next time...Sheryl and Don Crow.
Deanna Bogart "Pianoland"
Reviewed By: Duane Verh, Sept. 2012
With sparing backup and a cache of first-rate material in tow, Ms. Bogart leaves her sax in the case and pilots her piano over a most intimate sounding course of ballads to boogie and back.
Her light-footed vocal delivery and her instrument prove just about all the accompaniment needed to propel her eclectic, emotionally grown-up originals.
These include "Couldn't Love You More," "Where The Well Never Runs Dry" and the lyrically potent title track. But this veteran cast member of The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue can cause those keys to smoke as well, evidenced here on the Erroll Garner boogie-noir "Boogie Woogie Boogie".
Deanna Bogart "Pianoland"
Aug 2012 / Blind Pig Records
We fell in love with this CD from the first listen. The music is light and airy. It has space, and that is an integral part of music that many musicians forget to use. We also fell in love with Deanna's piano playing. It's unique, and it's filled with humor and spontaneity. (A touch of Thelonious Monk perhaps?) Her piano playing reminds us of Jeff Beck's guitar playing - it has that kind of one of a kind feel to it. Fantastic! The band is well suited to Deanna's playing as well - light n' tight. The songs are mostly original with a few classics thrown in, and each and every one sparkles with originality and emotion. We highly recommend you try, buy and listen to this glorious disc.
New Deanna Bogart CD "Pianoland" is really, really good, Really.
Weds, Aug 29 2012
By Jim White
At the risk of being seen as even more sexist than usual, we'll begin with Deanna Bogart's "Pianoland" (Blind Pig Records).
First impressions first. This is is Deanna reaching out, way beyond her usual fare, and creating an album full of rich, expressive music, where each song just makes you feel better and better.
There are fine and sensitive originals, rocking boogie and great covers all infused with Deanna's personal style and enthusiasm. And a wonderful maturity of taste and style.
The covers include a fascinating cross-section of American music from Willie Dixon (the joyous "I Love the Life I Live"), Pete Johnson (the rollicking "Death Ray Boogie"), Harold Arlen (a sensitive, joyous "Over the Rainbow"), James Taylor (a poignant "Close Your Eyes") and Pittsburgh's Erroll Garner (the intricately pounding of "Boogie Woogie Boogie").
The originals all display a thoughtful and creative musical spirit, from the opening gentle joyousness of "In The Rain," through the late-night torch of "Blues at 11," to the centerpiece of the album, "Pianoland," an elegantly lyrical visit to the musical universe she inhabits. A universe she gives us the pleasure of sharing here.
This isn't an album of background music. This is music to feel and absorb. Listen closely to every song. Enjoy. This is some fine music.
One tiny suggestion. The CD photos show Deanna at her casual best. That's cool. But I would have had at least one shot of her in a long black dress -- cool and sultry and elegant, just like the music she gives us here.
Deanna Bogart "Pianoland" - Aug. 2012
Pianoland is more than just a good album, it’s a really, really good album – maybe even a great album”– by an engaging musical talent.
by Bill Wilcox in Blues, Jazz, Reviews, Roots, Soul
Having won three past Blues Music Awards for her saxophone playing and a trunkful of Wammies (Washington Area Music Awards) in a fertile Washington, DC blues scene that included the likes of the Nighthawks, Tom Principato, Jimmy Thackery, Cephas & Wiggins, John Jackson, and Saffire – the Uppity Blues Women, multi-instrumentalist Deanna Bogart focuses her attention on her magical piano playing and singing on her new album, Pianoland. At times Pianoland is funky, at others it is elegant, and at others it is simply gorgeous.
Bogart has described her music as “blusion,” which “grows out of the blues … just doesn’t always end there.” Born in Detroit but raised in Phoenix and New York City, she settled in the Washington, DC area where in her 20s she worked first with a western swing ensemble and then with the R&B outfit Root Boy Slim. As she was approaching 30 in 1988 she finally got her own band together and started doing regional tours.
With her sultry voice and great touch on the piano, Bogart’s music is evocative of the playing of boogie woogie blues master Marcia Ball. However, it seems Bogart’s music would be a bit more at home at an elegant jazz club while Ball’s is strickly for the roadhouse or honky tonk. In that sense, she brings to mind the great Eva Cassidy, the great Washington, DC area jazz/pop singer who died of cancer in 1996 at age 33.
Bogart’s work on Pianoland features an able crew, with Scott Ambush on electric bass, Jeff Reed on upright bass, Mike Aubin on drums and Dan Leonard on guitar. But it is Bogart’s singing and playing that carries the day, beginning with her own compositions, the jazzy, upbeat “In the Rain,” and the introspective “On And On And,” which has a vague “Ode to Billy Joe” feel to it. Then she really shows her piano chops on Errol Garner’s instrumental “Boogie Woogie Boogie.” Her own delicate composition, “Couldn’t Love You More,” is gorgeous. “Where the Well Never Runs Dry,” another one of her own compositions, ends the flirtation and jumps head first into bed with jazz – and it is good, really good. Willie Dixon’s “I Love the Life I Love” steers the eclectic musical course back into the blues neighborhood of Pianoland, and it is followed by another boogie woogie cover, Pete Johnson’s “Death Ray Boogie,” and then by a surprising, sultry jazz rendition of Harold Arlen’s “Over the Rainbow” – yes, THAT “Over the Rainbow” (but it has about as much in common with the Wizard of Oz version as Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things” has with the Sound of Music). Bogart’s title number is a flowing pop tune and a great listen. Bogart’s “Blues at 11″ provides a nice instrumental interlude leading into another surprising song choice, James Taylor’s “Close Your Eyes" which she pulls off perfectly.
Blind Pig – BPCD 5148
Deanna Bogart’s Pianoland is her follow-up to 2009’s eclectic Eleventh Hour disc. Where that album was a hodgepodge of strutting, funk-infused rhythms, freeform pop melodies, and zealous musical treatments, Pianoland is an intently focused, blues/jazz-infused effort. Bogart centers her work around her underrated, interpretive vocals, and sense of musicianship.
Minimalist in its texture, the album again features the contributions of Dan Leonard on guitar, Mike Aubin on drums, and Scott Ambush and Jeff Reed on bass- electric and acoustic respectively. Noticeably absent this time around are the horns, which played such a prominent role on Bogart’s last album. Her piano fills the void. Bogart’s songs range from Duke Ellington elegance (Where the Well Never Runs Dry), to piano bar rockabilly (In the Rain), to demure, flirtatious shuffle (Willie Dixon’s I Love the Life I Live). Bogart’s voice soars beautifully on her solo piece Couldn’t Love You More, a tinge of Sunday morning gospel infiltrating her keys as she sings of “sorrows drifting away”, easing a lover’s anxiety. A cover of Harold Arlen’s American standard Over the Rainbow sets a flowing, soft-jazz tone of sophistication to the song, akin to Ray Charles backing Ella Fitzgerald on a dream collaboration.
Bogart’s self-produced Pianoland sounds like an assertion she’s been inclined to make for some time. This is Deanna Bogart in her purest, soul-spilling musical incarnation, letting her ideas breathe with a touch of class.
Living Blues, Issue #221, Vol.4
PIANOLAND CD REVIEW
By Mindy Giles, Jan/2013
Imagine big city, late night skyscrapers. There's a dim light in a little window. Zoom in. It's 3 am., but the scene inside the warm recording studio is cooking'. A woman sits at the grand piano; the sound is big, warm, burnished, enveloping. She fills the room with single notes like teardrops, churns like a boogie boogie train, and builds an emotional cathedral -- an interior life revealed.
This is Deanna Bogart's wonderful new album, Pianoland. A multiple Blues Music Award winner, this multipinstrumentalist (saxophone, piano) band leader and singer-songwriter takes an intimate, sans-sax, and late night turn with her 8th album.
She has a smoked-in-velvet voice, part Rita Coolidge/Marcia Ball, even a little Bobbie Gentry, and her soulful elegance on piano bring to mind boogie piano masters, but also the great Jimmy Webb, an Oklanhoma native who is master of sublime pop writing. Her collection of songs (sic originals and five covers) is a smart departure, and can be a doorway to the kind of wider audiences that Webb and Bonnie Raitt have garnered.
The album opens with "In the Rain," a joyous gospel/bluesy train shuffle rhythm with jazz piano runs. "On And On And" is Creedence by cosmic starlight, R&B couched in funky philosophy with delightful and unexpected inventive phrases. She is taking chances and loves it. A seamless segue into a beautiful Errol Garner "Boogie Woogie Boogie" leads to "Couldn't Love You More". This is her hit song - personal balladry that reaches the level of the best brilliant Webb/Billy Joel even Jon Bon Jovi compositions.
Bogart's accompanying players (Scott Ambush on bass and Mike Aubin on drums) shine with simpatico on "Where the Well Never Runs Dry", a Bobbie Gentry delta soul feel, fresh with some inventive Eltonish "Take Me To THe Pilot" chordal runs.
Willie Dixon's classic "I Love The Lie I Live" was a signature song for Mose Allison, but again Bogart trusts her girlish ways and finds a wonderful new interpretation. In her hands, the sentiment is Myrna Loy or Barbara Stanwyck. Boogie Woogie legend Pete Johnson's "Death Ray Boogie" is a joyous rave - and what a set-up for what needs to immediately be on the short list for one of the best interpretations of Harold Arlen's "Over The Rainbow" ever recorded. Judy Garland, at age 16 was so deep…but this bluesy version, woman-wise and gentle, is redemptive, sad, and so beautiful. Wow Deanna.
The title track "Pianoland" is purposeful and soaring - pure East Coast autobiographical cinema and at 7+ minutes reminds me of Springsteen's "Jungleland" or Joel's "New York State of Mind."
"When it all get turned around and I need to leave the ground
I'm safe and sound in Pianoland"
And if we are staying on the movie star theme, another terrific instrumental, the autumnal "Blues at Eleven" is pure Lauren Bacall. Seductive and wise, Bogart owns it. And it transits us to her earth motherly coda, James Taylor's deeply complex adult lullaby of reassurance, "Close Your Eyes".
One of the best records of 2012, any genre.
Sacramento Blues Society Newsletter
Pianoland (Blind Pig Records)
John Lee Hooker used to say that the blues was a "healer." And once in a rare while an album comes along that just captures you with its beauty, creativity and magic and just radiates out the healing power of the blues and all music.
Pianoland by journeywoman piano, sax player, vocalist and songwriter Deanna Bogart is a masterpiece of blues healing. At times listening to this album is like listening to Coltrane or Monk for the first time. And as with any great work of art Pianoland defies easy classification. Bogart has spent decades refining her craft. She is adored by fans and has won 20 music awards in the Washington D.C. region where she lives. She calls her music a "blusion" of boogie woogie, blues country and jazz. And all these elements are present on Pianoland which includes six original songs by Bogart and covers by greats such as Errol Garner, Pete Johnson, Willie Dixon, Harold Arlen and James Taylor.
Eclectic, right? Bogart handles the piano with technical prowess, moving easily from genre to genre. But then on the last half of this album it enters the realm of a masterpiece. She starts with Willie Dixon's "I Love the Life I Live." Bogart turns Dixon's deep blues into modern jazz. Then she segues into Pete Johnson's "Death Ray Boogie" which is pure rocking boogie woogie. And this moves into an interesting choice: Harold Arlen's "Over the Rainbow." But Bogart turns this classic we have heard a million times into a slow blues, almost a dirge to lost dreams. Bogart's voice, which can alternate between sexy and wistful, is almost rueful here, like someone who believed once in the magical promise but now knows better.
This sets up a seven plus minute composition by Bogart called "Pianoland".This is an epic story about life and the blues. Musically it moves from fast to slow and is reminiscent of the early classic work of Billy Joel. Consider these lyrics: "And the past comes callin'/And the dreams start fallin'/One by one out of the air." And further on: "When there's nothing left to say nothing left to play/And the hurt won't go away easily/When it's more than I can stand I go down to pianoland/Just another journeyman and that's alright with me."
This is powerful stuff. Then the album moves to the lounge jazz of Bogart's "Blues at 11" and concludes with the hopeful, beautiful James Taylor song, "Close Your Eyes."
Pianoland is an album that is almost operatic in its swell of emotion. You listen to the final track and you realize you have been on such an amazing journey that you have to play it again. That never happens to me with music anymore. On this album it did. And I love it. Deanna Bogart is not just a journeywoman of the blues and road warrior. Only a true artist could have pulled off an album as ambitious as this. John Lee Hooker had it right: the blues is a healer. And so is Deanna Bogart. Get this CD. See her live if you get a chance. You will not be disappointed.
October 23, 2012
PIANOLAND, Deanna Bogart (Blind Pig)
Part boogie-woogie romp, part modern blues ballad, "Pianoland" is a wonderful achievement on piano and vocals for Deanna Bogart, who also has been feted over the years for her skills as a saxophonist.
The disc features Bogart on a number of jaw-dropping solos in which she does original material and covers of songs by Errol Garner, Willie Dixon, and Pete Johnson, as well as a memorable take of Harold Arlen's classic, "Over the Rainbow."
Bogart, who has appeared on the stage over the years with B.B. King, Brian Setzer, Buddy Guy, James Brown, Dr. John, They Might Be Giants, Ray Charles, Bela Fleck, the Neville Brothers and others, brings passion, energy and drive to this disc. It's a real treasure, whether you're ready to kick back with a house party or be moved by heartfelt, evocative lyrics and music.
– Tom Henry
October 4, 2012
DEANNA BOGART "Pianoland"
By Mike Joyce
Deanna Bogart’s new album, “Pianoland,” should come with a tagline: “Less hammering, more heart.”
Mind you, fans of Bogart’s powerfully driven keyboard rhythms won’t be disappointed, not after hearing her pay a double-fisted tribute to pioneer Pete Johnson with his “Death Ray Boogie,”or saluting jazz great Erroll Garner with the delightfully percussive “Boogie Woogie Boogie.” Still, it’s the soulful ballads and sublime pop interpretations that ultimately distinguish “Pianoland” and help make it Bogart’s most rewarding and well-rounded album yet.
Of course, the longtime Washington favorite hasn’t won almost two dozen Wammies on the strength of her keyboard skills alone. Her vocal charms and songwriting talent have always been evident, and those gifts consistently stand out on this album.
You can argue with Bogart’s choice to record a standard as threadbare as “Over the Rainbow,” but it’s hard to knock the results; it’s beautifully understated. Even better is Bogart’s expressive treatment of James Taylor’s “Close Your Eyes,” which brings to mind the influence of Bonnie Raitt without sounding the least bit secondhand. As for the original tunes, the reassuring “Couldn’t Love You More” clearly ranks among Bogart’s finest ballads.