Eugene Weekly : Music : 12.27.07

Jessie Is Her Name
Marquez & Denny cement partnership with new CD

For two years Cuban-born Jessie Marquez and UO and LCC jazz instructor Mike Denny have performed together regularly. They’ve each released their own recordings but have yet to commit anything to CD together — until now. Get the Feeling displays the essence of Cuba’s filin music — literally feeling, emotive music inspired by American 1940s-’60s era blues and jazz.

Marquez has returned to Cuba in recent years and has sung with the country’s premier musicians. In the process, she’s developed her own style of music inspired by filin. Denny thinks the language of filin and jazz naturally work well together. “It’s the harmonies and the freedom of the rhythm,” he says.

Denny is most proud of the two originals on Get the Feeling, “Sad To Know,” and “Bitter Medicine,” a tale of love betrayed. “We can weave in and out of each other,” Denny says. “Jessie’s voice is like an instrument. We’re having this wonderful dialogue and it’s really interesting and soulful.”

And what beautiful music they make! From the opening notes of “Te Vi,” Marquez’ voice is sultry perfection, and Denny’s guitar swings and gently sways, providing a solid framework but letting Marquez’s voice shine. Denny chose the nylon string acoustic guitar for the warmth it provides to the music, a natural choice. This CD gives me the same feeling I get when I cozy up to an old Julie London album on the record player. It has the timeless feel of the classic female vocalists of the swing era, and like the great Miss Julie, Jessie’s voice immediately sounds intimate and sensual and is a great tonic for frayed nerves.

The pair’s fluid collaborations occur as a duo and as an ensemble incorporating acoustic bass, drums and hand percussion. Denny is a big fan of Latin music of all different types but didn’t begin exploring filin until Marquez sought him out after a friend recommended she work with him. “My whole life I’ve been a fan of bossa nova from its Brazilian roots, and Jessie is coming at it from a Cuban perspective, but [the combination is] really fascinating and interesting,” Denny says. “And it’s nice for me to bring my jazz experience into the picture so that I can come up with some different interpretations once in a while, because jazz really is nothing if it’s not spontaneous.”

Jessie Marquez and Mike Denny CD release (duo). 9 pm Saturday, 12/29 • Luna, $8 adv., $10 door

Jessie Marquez and Mike Denny (ensemble). 8:30 pm Monday, 12/31. Luna, $10 adv., $12 door

Jessie Marquez and Mike Denny CD release. 8:30 pm Saturday, 1/5. Axe & Fiddle, Cottage Grove, $5 • 21+ events


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