• Jonathan Widran

DEE BELL, Love For Sailin' Over Seas: Then & Now

For veteran vocalist Dee Bell, it all began with a rendition of “Happy Birthday.” While singing it to a customer at the Sausalito, CA restaurant where she worked, she was overheard by jazz guitarist Eddie Duran who invited her to sing with his band. The subsequent demo they made resulted in her Concord Jazz debut featuring Stan Getz – and then another on the label. She recorded her third album Sagacious Grace in 1990 – but it didn’t see the light of day till two decades later, after she had left the music business to become a grade school music teacher in Mill Valley.

On an independent roll over the past decade, Dee reminded folks just how she got off to such a promising start back in the 80s, with three popular independent releases on Laser Records. Featuring two new tracks and a colorful mix of eight top selections from her previous three albums, Dee’s latest, sweetly titled album Love For Sailin’ Over Seas (Then and Now) is a brilliant showcase for her effortless, emotional and deeply soulful way with traditional jazz and swing and Brazilian music (via colorful interpretations of the Ivan Lins compositions “By Chance (Acaso)” and the delightfully breezy and balmy “Boa Nova, which she sings in graceful Portuguese).

Bell and keyboardist, arranger and producer Marcos Silva’s original intent was to create a two track digital release of the new tracks that launch the project, a playful, rambunctious and fast rolling spin on Abbey Lincoln’s “I Got Thunder (And It Rings)” (highlighted by Romero Lubambo’s fiery electric guitar solo) and a tender, wistful and stripped down take on “I’ll String Along Without You.” Then they decided to remaster the other eight gems so as to re-introduce them and create unique timeline that beautifully mines the past, illuminates the present and sets the stage for a bright future for Dee’s incredibly versatile and essential vocal talents.