January 03, 2012
“All The Cats Join In” Liner Notes
By Andrew Gilbert
As titles go, “All the Cats Join In” couldn’t be more apt. Consider it a personal invitation from Dana Land, an artist whose generosity extends well beyond the stellar cast of players who join her in the studio and on the bandstand. While she recorded a fine album several years ago as a calling card for clubs and festivals, “Cats” is essentially Land’s debut release, a project with which she embraces her audience with a pleasingly sunny sound and a consistently fresh take on well-chosen songs. It’s the work of a self-possessed artist who is comfortable in her own skin and determined to share the pleasure she finds in music with her listeners.
As Land hails from a family that settled in Hawaii about a century and a half ago, you could say that the Sonoma, Calif.-based singer comes by her welcoming vibe as a birthright. From the playful and irrepressibly swinging opening track, the Shermans’ classic “I Wanna Be Like You,” from the 1967 animated Disney film “The Jungle Book,” Land can barely contain her infectious sense of joy. By the second tune, an almost ecstatic rendition of “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” she’s not even trying to rein in her high spirits.
That’s to say that Land is a stranger to the dark side. Her interpretation of “Eleanor Rigby” plumbs Lennon and McCartney’s unblinking look at loneliness and despair. But where some jazz singers build a repertoire upon anguished torch songs, righteous blues and lamenting tales of woe, Land seems drawn to material exploring the lighter side of love and desire (lighter as in Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” rather than lightweight—Land takes her musical pleasures seriously). It’s a sensibility that finds expression in sources beyond American Songbook standards, in novelty numbers, R&B and relatively contemporary pop songs.
She gives “Princess Pupule Has Plenty Papaya” a playfully lascivious, takin’-my-sweet-time reading, while tweaking the hoary, double-entendre laden Hapa Haole number by opening with a verse from Rosemary Clooney’s career-making 1951 hit “Come On-a My House.” Recorded in Hawaii, the piece features bassist John Kolivas’s Honolulu Jazz Quartet, a highly cohesive combo that should be far better known on the mainland. The quartet also provides appropriately blues-drenched accompaniment on Percy Mayfield’s “Lost Mind,” a tune that’s less a cautionary tale than a celebration of losing one’s head in love.
When Land decides to tackle a well-worn standard, she brings something new to the game. Setting “My Funny Valentine” to a gentle funk groove takes the sentimental Rodgers and Hart gem to a different place, while Scotty Barnhart’s lovely trumpet solo reconnects the song with its definitive interpreters Miles Davis and Chet Baker. Barnhart’s horn also plays a key role on a different kind of standard, Van Morrison’s “Moon Dance,” a piece that Land turns into an effective jazz vehicle. More precisely, it’s an arrangement she created in collaboration with her working band featuring piano ace Jonathan Alford, veteran bassist Chris Amberger, and drum great Akira Tana, a superlative accompanist whose resume includes stints with numerous jazz legends, from James Moody and Zoot Sims to Milt Jackson and J.J. Johnson.
Backed by the same rhythm section on seven of the albums 11 tracks, Land is clearly buoyed by their sympathetic, gracefully attentive support. Reed expert Jeff Sanford also serves as an expressive foil for Land throughout the album. A ubiquitous presence on the Bay Area jazz scene probably best known for his popular Cartoon Jazz project focusing on the music of Raymond Scott, Sanford makes each solo count, from his growling tenor work on “I Wanna Be Like You” to his insinuating clarinet on “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets.”
On the deliciously seductive version of “Lola” and insouciantly swinging arrangement of “Exactly Like You,” Land is joined by another world-class rhythm section featuring Tana, bass master John Wiitala and pianist Larry Vuckovich, a brilliant player who has accompanied many of jazz’s finest singers. With Land scatting over some hot violin work by Carlos Reyes on “Exactly,” she leaves you craving another straight ahead excursion. Instead, she ups the ante by closing the album with a torrid version of “Fever” recorded live. It’s a fitting conclusion to a session introducing an impressive singer who walked a winding path before setting out to follow her musical muse. Now that she’s found her calling, Land has given notice that everyone’s welcome to join her, and the cats are clearly climbing on board.
November 13, 2006
I briefly spoke to you on the phone today in the KCSM studio.I was probably a gibbering mess on the phone because you truly knocked me out with your rendition of Route 66 and If I Only Had a Brain. I've phoned some friends in the jazz world over here in Australia and told them to look out for a new, sensational voice on the jazz scene. You CD is on it's way to me from Amazon.com.
Keep servin' it up,
March 23, 2011
Hi Dana, Wonderful show today at the senior center. I had to leave the room at one point I was so touched (tears a rollin). I mean, your singing is always terrific and great fun vocally for me to listen to, and your band was great energy but what really got to me was how you touched the people there. I watched you with your mom, letting her shine, and felt how lucky you both were to be able to share those moments. And the new resident with the wonderful bass voice, perhaps he felt a little bit more at home being able to sing again and having his gift recognized and appreciated. The gentlemen singing to the ladies, oh my! Such fun. Thanks for being there and making the day.
March 24, 2011
".... your singing, looks, stage presence, and personality make you "the entire package"........and so, even if you were up there with Ella and Sarah, you'd acquit yourself just fine."
February 18, 2012
"We were so nervous about everything coming together for our wedding but with Dana's professionalism and amazing talent we all had a great and memorable time. We were impressed and so were our guests! Thank you, Dana!
-John and Makiko S.
January 23, 2007
Dana Land, vocals - Servin’ It Up - Jen-Car Production
...an amazing quality of reminding you of now Chris Conner, now Ella, maybe Diana Krall, but not really sounding like any of them.
Dana Land, vocals - Servin’ It Up - Jen-Car Productions, 46:12 *****:
Since you are reading this review under the “jazz” category, we know you have heard and collected a considerable amount of music in this broad category. Our bet is that part of your collection includes jazz by a tasty small group playing straight ahead jazz, featuring really good instrumental soloists, who come together to play. And it surely contains some of the female jazz singers with that hard-to-define voice quality and feel for what’s happening with the music behind her. Well then, have we got an addition for you! Now comes Dana Land with her first CD. And serve it up she does! This is an amazing debut album that you will be playing a great deal. Your love affair with Ms. Land will start with her quietly sexy cover art on the album, and will continue unabashed for many album hearings.
Dana Land lives in the wine country of Sonoma, CA. She was an interior designer for a decade, and then a stay-at-home mom for nine more. But throughout both careers, she couldn’t shake the idea of becoming a jazz performer. And we are glad she couldn’t. Her voice has its own unique quality—playful, fun, clear and with a spot-on pitch and focus. And an amazing quality of reminding you of now Chris Conner, now Ella, maybe Diana Krall, but not really sounding like any of them. It’s one of those voices that at a fleeting moment recalls these singers and others, then returns to pure Dana. Very cool!
On this album she is backed by some amazing and classy SF bay area musicians: John Mackay and John Simon on piano, Tom Shader acoustic bass, Kendrick Freeman drums, David Sydney Scott and Dale Gutridge on saxes, and Gutridge and Al Molina on trumpet, with Randy Vincent on guitar and Bob Afifi on flute.
Ms. Land's play list is diverse. From the opening standard “Old Devil Moon”, to the playful “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens (my fave) to “If I Only Had A Brain” and even “Good Day Sunshine”. And if you don’t fall in love during her rendition of the Brazilian tune “Dindi”, you ain’t livin’.
I have had the pleasure of seeing Ms. Land perform several times in small rooms, medium size venues and in concert in the lovely deco Sebastiani Theater in Sonoma. During the latter, she was joined by another amazing jazz singer—Jamie Davis, whose album was reviewed previously here. That is a blockbuster combination of talent, and I hope they do more work together.
Do yourself a favor and get this album now. It’s a jazzy fun way to start the new year, and will be good company for many of them to come. Her site, http://ats.danaland.com/home.html, takes you to CD Baby for purchase.
-- Bob Wilkins
November 21, 2007
"Dana brings a most positively infectious spirit and energy to the bandstand and to the audience. The musicians, as well as the audience are immediately affected by her strong rhythmic and melodic phrasing and her soulful vocal sound. The enjoyment that she has while performing has a lasting affect on everyone who hears her."
November 10, 2007
"With your wonderful presence and vocalizing you are a gifted and natural performer who does the best thing possible and that is communicate with the audience and give everyone a special musical experience. Onwards and upwards."
February 16, 2006
"Dana's voice sounds somewhere between Ella's and Doris Day's--sweet but very jazzy and sexy. Her rhythm and phrasing are impeccable, and her ability to command an orchestra is wonderful. What Land has as a singer is total professionalism, perfect pitch, pizzazz and the "It" factor!"
September 21, 2010
On behalf of the board of directors for the Incline Village Community Hospital Foundation, thank you for your "Perfect" entertainment at our Smooth Jazz Summer fund raiser. You were fabulous and our event was successful raising the funds for our new equipment!
April 17, 2010
Thank you so much for including Woodland Star in the Sonoma Jazz Plus assembly. We loved it! The musicians were fabulous, the hostess (Dana) was very engaging and the music was amazing. The students really enjoyed the experience, learned quite a bit about the roots of Jazz and the different instrumentation and some even got up and danced!
This type of musical & participative offering is so wonderfully suited to the elementary/middle school aged student. The musicians were completely inspiring and I'm sure their impact will be one that lingers and sustains student interest in becoming musicians themselves.
Principal-Woodland Star Charter
June 27, 2008
Dear Ms. Land,
Thank you for a wonderful jazz camp experience! My son, Kyle, thought this was his best music camp. The environment was nurturing, creative and supportive. He enjoyed partaking in the jam sessions with the rest of the students and music instructors. He thought the instructors were passionate, experienced, patient and very kind. His instructor, Roger Glenn, taught him techniques on how to be an effective background soloist, how to use chord changes in improvisation, the importance of knowing your scales and understanding that "if you can sing it, you can play it."
As a parent having watched all the students these past two weeks, I thought the camp was organized, positive, comfortable and carefully adapted to meet the students' different skill levels. The instructors were sensitive to each student's needs and were able to bring out the best in each student. The jam sessions were fun, expressive and innovative. It was a pleasure to see students blossom into aspiring musicians. I would definitely recommend this camp to others.
October 23, 2007
Our Jazz in the Valley dinner-concert exceeded everyone’s expectations! The dinner was great, the fund raising topped prior levels, the jazz singer (that’s you) was EXCEPTIONAL and we managed to stay right on the clock, too. All in all a wonderful evening for everyone.
Best Regards from the Valley of the Moon Rotary Club
-Frank R. Sites CLU
December 21, 2005
"A fresh singing voice as clear as the Sonoma air, with just a slight hint of fine Merlot."
February 16, 2006
Published February - 16 - 2006
LOCAL JAZZ DIVA DANA LAND LEAVES AUDIENCE BEGGING FOR MORE. Classy songstress Dana Land brought some of the finest jazz musicians ever to play Sonoma to a benefit concert Saturday night at the swanky Lodge at Sonoma. Larry Vuckovich, legendary accompanist of Mel Torme, Jon Hendricks and others, played an AB Roland 500 using every aspect of the organ to tremendous effect. Santa Cruz’s Nat Johnson played a bass so rich in tone you could almost taste the walnut-like flavor. Young drummer Matt Guggemos was flawless on drums, Sanna Craig (Vuckovich’s wife) was right on with percussion (mostly bongos), and Noel Jewkes — the best-kept secret in jazz — played tenor sax, flute and clarinet.
Jewkes, who has chosen to stay in the San Francisco Bay Area his entire career, is perhaps the finest musician I’ve ever heard on the combination of those three instruments. He’s mastered them all. His clarinet floored me — it has a totally unique sound. Eschewing the usual Benny Goodman style, he has developed an alto sax-like flavor. I don’t know who to compare him to (Artie Shaw?), but I know I want to hear a whole lot more.
The real star of the show was Dana Land; she came late to singing, but clearly has made up for lost time. Her voice sounds somewhere between Peggy Lee’s and Ella's — sweet but very jazzy and sexy. Her rhythm and phrasing are impeccable and her ability to command an orchestra is wonderful. What Land has as a singer is total professionalism, perfect pitch, pizzazz and that "It" factor. Her scat may be her strongest suit and I look forward to hearing her do more of it. I also look forward to her using more of her growl (which she definitely ‘s got), i.e., more of her Peggy Lee and less of her Doris Day. This woman is hotter than she knows, and with just a little more seasoning should be a nationally recognized singer.
Land’s debut album “Servin’ It Up” — whose cover pictures her serving strawberries to the ducks on the Plaza — is gorgeous... but plays it musically safe. The old professor says, Dana, honey, you are the too beautiful for words... now start taking lots more chances musically, and you’ll go all the way.
And if looks could kill, Dana, in your art deco, bronze, satin form-fitting dress, you slew us all. Here was the Lady, in a room with mediocre acoustics at best, with no spotlights at all, with a crowd of some jazz aficionados, some family, and some people who just wanted to support a worthy cause (Sonoma Valley’s Spirit of Play Foundation) relating to everyone in the audience as if they were personal friends. And believe me, everyone felt like a personal friend.
More impressive than her satin smooth singing was her modesty and appreciation toward her band. We knew we were in the presence of greatness... not hers — though she will be great soon — but her accompanists. On stage, it’s who the performer is, not what she does that matters, and Dana is a sweetheart and a great lady with all the tools to become a great artist. Don’t miss a chance to watch her work. You’ll become an instant fan, as we all did Saturday night.
On “That Old Devil Moon,” Vuckovich gave subtle support on keyboard and Jewkes enchanted on tenor. There was no doubt that Dana was in charge.
“Exactly Like You” started with keyboard, bowed to Johnson’s authoritative bass, then tenor; then Vuckovich lay back, using the vibes on the Roland. We knew here we were in the hands of experts by the time Dana began her understated riffs with rhythmic perfection.
Land sold “Cow Cow Boogies,” an homage to Mel Torme and Ella Fitzgerald, as a cowboy song — which made it even more fun, because it’s pure cool jazz.
On “Sway,” Jukes started out on a flute so fluid, it ran through my entire body. By the time Vuckovich came in on marimba Roland we were all so comfortable that it felt like a warm hot tub in the room. A few people started to dance.
“Comes Love” lifted us into the first rings of heaven as Jukes busted out the subtlest clarinet I’ve ever heard, and Vuckovich switched to the Hammond organ sound: Real jazz, man! I was flashing back to the days of the Jazz Workshop in S.F., where I actually heard “A Love Supreme” on a night when ‘Trane took us all to another planet.
Then Vuckovich switched back to marimbas sound on “Undecided” and the swinging call and response with Land delighted everyone... people started to swing.
Before the break, Matt Johnson sang a beautiful solo while serving up a rich bass line. Unfortunately, the acoustics of the room failed his wonderful voice.
The second half started with the tenor sax on “Route 66,” then returned to the wonderful Latin beat of “Whatever Lola Wants” — also with salty tenor and Vuckovich on vibes.
During the hilarious Mose Alison number “Overtime,” Land showed her humor by asking the band if they were having fun yet. When no one responded, she explained, “These guys are so into the music.”
Clifford Brown’s “Joyspring” was one of my favorite numbers — Lady Land showed her strongest singing weapon: scat. Her rhythm is nearly as good as the immortal Mel Torme. This, along with Vuck’s straight piano and Jewkes’ intensely beautiful flute, was almost too much.
Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose” showed off more magic flute and especially fine bass, and Miss Land showed something that she needs to work on a bit — vocal dynamics. She has them, but needs to use them like she did here.
In “Centerpiece” by Harry Sweets Edison, the flute became liquid honey next to the vibes and then organ sound, which served as the perfect background for Land’s improvisation (which she could do a lot more of) and gracious thank you to each band member.
I’m so glad to be alive when I hear a show like this. Thank you, Lady Land and producer/manager/sweetheart Jeff Land.
The old professor gives the show an A-. A+ for the music, but C for the room and lack of any nourishment besides sweets.
If heaven’s like this, even without the beer nuts, I’m there.
February 11, 2004
How can Dana Land be so hot when she's so cool?
June 24, 2004
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Special Events Committee, we want to thank you for a fabulous beginning to our first ever Summertime Concert Series at the Marin Art and Garden Center.
Your outstanding performance and the charm with which it was given will be long remembered. As you may recall, our goal for the series was to hold a community-building event and you helped us accomplish that, with a show that appealed to young and old alike. I feel certain that the strong foundation you laid for us will lead to even larger crowds for the July concert. At Marty's last count, we had about 200 people Tuesday evening-that far exceeded our expectations!
Dana, thanks again. You are very talented and delightful to work with. We hope you will participate again next year!
MAGC Board of Trustees
October 30, 2005
Good Morning, Dana,
A hearty thanks to you and John! You were both great. Your style, your beautiful voice, selection of songs and John's mellow piano accompaniment, helped to make our event a true success.
Many of our guests went out of their way to let us know how much they enjoyed the music. You are definitely on our list for future commitments. Thank you, again!
June 28, 2005
Terrific CD!!! What a pleasure to listen to your new CD and to hear some real style. I love it! (and I don't say that very often) It reminds me a bit of Doris Day (a personal favorite of mine). I don't hear anyone sing like that anymore. Your selection of tunes is great. I love the humor!
June 15, 2005
I love the album! Dana, you are so professional and your voice is silky, CLEAR as crystal, and GREAT! It is a highly, highly uptone work of art and I will cherish it. I am playing it right now! All of the artists are wonderful. It is quite a blend of style and rhythm I like and appreciate. I really like the calypso touch, a beat I can play along with my pen on the coffee cup, mouse, and other implements to make up my percussion kit. You sound completely THERE.
July 06, 2005
Congratulations on your fabulous new CD 'Servin' It Up'! It is awesome!!
We are enjoying our own private "concerts". Your talent is really HUGE, Dana! And you have refined and developed it to perfection.
Truly lovely work. Your back up musicians are real quality, too!
June 25, 2005
She's really, really good! I want every album she's done!
July 03, 2005
'Servin' It Up' is the best upbeat female jazz vocal album that I can remember hearing.