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Denise Donatelli + Geoffrey Keezer


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Zorn Arena

7:30 p.m.

Denise Donatelli, a Grammy Award-nominated Savant recording and international concert artist, is one of today’s premier jazz vocalists. The Los Angeles Jazz Society named her 2012 Jazz Vocalist of the Year, and she was voted one of the top 10 Female Vocalist Rising Stars in the 2013 DownBeat Critics Poll.

Donatelli's four albums have collectively garnered three Grammy Award nominations. Her 2012 release, Soul Shadows, received a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album. When Lights are Low (2010) received two Grammy nominations — one for Best Jazz Vocal Album, and another for pianist and collaborator Geoffrey Keezer's arrangement of "Don’t Explain." Her first two recordings, In the Company of Friends (2005) and What Lies Within (2008), also earned critical acclaim.

An East Coast native and recipient of classical piano training, Donatelli turned to singing jazz. A decision to move to Los Angeles in 2000 put her in touch with some of the city’s stellar musicians. She has performed as guest vocalist with Roger Kellaway, Terry Trotter, Christian Jacob’s Big Band Theory, Alf Clausen’s Jazz Orchestra, Les Hooper’s Big Band, the Stan Kenton Alumni Band and a long list of jazz luminaries.

Possessing a voice of exceptional nuance, agility and unerring pitch, Donatelli is able to imbue whatever she chooses to sing with her special warmth, wit and insight. She tours extensively, performing at jazz festivals, jazz clubs, performing art centers, and with university jazz bands where she conducts master clinics.

Pianist Geoffrey Keezer commands the attention typically reserved for the living legends of jazz. A native of Eau Claire, Keezer was playing in jazz clubs as a teenager. He has performed twice before on the Artists Series — in 1990, as a 19-year-old member of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, and four years later with the Contemporary Piano Ensemble in a four-piano tribute to jazz innovator Phineas Newborn. Keezer went on to record with jazzy chanteuses Diana Krall and Dianne Reeves; tour with with David Sanborn, Chris Botti, Joe Locke and Christian McBride; and collaborate with pop icon Sting, sax legend Wayne Shorter and guitar wizard Jim Hall. He has worked with vocalist Denise Donatelli on her acclaimed recordings, and released a series of albums drawing influences from Hawaiian, Okinawan and Afro-Peruvian folk traditions. 

Keezer's 2009 CD, Áurea, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album. He recently released his first solo piano album in 13 years, Heart of the Piano (2013).

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble I, under the direction of Robert Baca, is recognized as one of the premier jazz ensembles in the United States. Six of their CDs have received the prestigious DownBeat Award for Best College Band. Two of their recordings — Harpoon (1996) and Things to Come (2001) — have been nominated for a Grammy Award. In celebration of Stan Kenton’s 100th birthday, the ensemble was asked by the Kenton Foundation to record a tribute album of lost works written by Kenton during the 1960s and 1970s. Jazz Ensemble I’s 18th CD release, Jazz in Clear Water — Black, Brown and Beige, marks the first recording of Duke Ellington’s largest work since the Ellington orchestra’s own recording in 1943.

Jazz Ensemble I has toured throughout the U.S., Europe and the Pacific Rim. In 1991 the group performed in China, being recognized as the first jazz ensemble to tour the country since it opened its borders to the western world. The ensemble records a CD each year, to critical acclaim.

Robert Baca has been UW-Eau Claire professor of trumpet and director of jazz studies since 1986. Widely known in both classical and commercial areas, he has performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra and was a member of the popular radio ensemble for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. He has toured with Frank Sinatra, Buddy Rich, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme and many others.


$17  General Public
$15  UW System Faculty/Staff • Age 62 & Over
$  7  UW System Student • Age 17 & Under
Student tickets are $3.50 until the day of the show
All seats are general admission

The Artists Series is funded by the students of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Wisconsin Public Radio and WHYS Radio have contributed generous promotional support.