Friday, February 10, 2012

Debbie Keeton - Jim Wellen at Venice Art Center

Singer Debbie Keeton and tenor saxophonist Jim Wellen work together frequently. And they work well together, which was evident at the February 9 South County Jazz Club matinee concert at the Venice Art Center, which drew 100+ music fans.

The band included bassist Dominic Mancini, guitarist Dave Trefethen and, for the second set, drummer Dane Hassan. It was an afternoon of standards, mostly performed straight ahead with some rhythmic twists.
"Get Out of Town" had a samba rhythm, while "Summer Samba" became a breezy bossa nova. Keeton's backing quartet added a bossa feel to "Cherokee" to start the second set.
Highlights: Keeton's rendition of the Eartha Kitt hit "A Sunday Kind of Love," an intimate voice-and-guitar version of "Something Cool" by Keeton and Trefethen, and the singer's soulful take on "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" Instrumental favorites, besides "Cherokee," included "Stella by Starlight," Django Reinhardt's timeless ballad "Nuages" - another Trefethen showcase, and Wellen's wonderful balladry on "Easy to Love."

Keeton's delivery is a pleasant blend of words and scatting, in which she moves naturally between both but never overdoes the wordless improvisation. She has an uncanny sense of time that enhances the impact of her delivery - finding ways to lay back a bit or stretch notes for emphasis.
Wellen is an excellent mainstream tenor player whose forte is the standards for which players like Scott Hamilton and Harry Allen helped develop a new audience. He's always a treat to hear.


  1. Debbie is an outstanding vocalist/piano player whether with a group of other musicians or on her own. As a vocalist, there is a strong hint of Peggy Lee.

    Chris. Moquin

  2. Debbie Keeton can entertain a room as a solo, with vocals and keyboard/piano or as part of a 5 piece combo or with one other musician - guitar, etc. She does not only all kinds of jazz but just about any song you can think of. We have been fans of hers for many years - over 20 - and are never disappointed with her performance.