Donna Deussen

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Donna Deussen

Donna Deussen is a California native, but spent much of her childhood in New England. She attended and graduated magna cum laude in 1989 from Berklee College of Music in Boston, with a degree in songwriting.

After college, Donna Deussen moved to Los Angeles, and began performing, writing, and recording all styles of contemporary music, including pop, R&B, country, rock, folk, and, of course, jazz. This Los Angeles Jazz Singer has performed at a wide variety of venues in the Southern California area, including: Spazio Restaurant, Millenium Biltmore Hotel, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Auditorium, The Palace, The Cinegrill, Lunaria’s, The Jazz Bakery, Cal Tech Summer Jazz Series, Monteleone’s, Sportsman’s Lodge, The Other Side, L.A. Cabaret, The Money Tree, The Gardenia Room, Portofino on Pine, Luna Park, Fox & Hound, and many more.

In Arizona, Donna Deussen has performed at numerous venues, including: the Phoenician Hotel, the Ritz Carlton Hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel, the Royal Palms Hotel, the Orange Tree Golf Country Club, the Windemere Hotel, Eddie V's, Village Tavern, and Johnny’s Uptown Supper Club.

Donna Deussen credits

Donna Deussen sings every Christmas season with a renowned a capella group, who have been seen in several motion pictures, including “The Addams Family.” She also recorded a Glendale Federal Bank radio commercial, and has worked as a session singer at several recording studios in the L.A. area.

In addition, Donna Deussen is a much-sought after vocal coach. She was on the faculty at the prestigious Performing Arts Center in Van Nuys, CA, for several years, and has an effective and practical approach to vocal technique and problem solving.

Donna Deussen CD

In April 2003, Donna Deussen long-awaited debut Jazz CD was released. It reflects her command of a vast range of styles, from samba to the blues. It showcases some of LA's best musicians: MARK MASSEY on keyboards, ALDO BENTIVEGNA on drums, ANDERS SWANSON on bass, and features the renowned saxaphonist ERIC MARIENTHAL (of the Chick Corea Elektric Band). Her album showcases all-original arrangements by her and Mark Massey, including a “Weather Report” inspired version of “Nature Boy” and a jazz rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “River.”

The CD of Donna Deussen has been garnering favorable reviews, and is getting airplay on many jazz radio stations, including KKJZ Long Beach, KCLU Thousand Oaks, KBEM Minneapolis, WAER Syracuse, WICN Worchester MA, SkyJazz Internet Radio, CFRC Radio Ontario Canada, WTJU Charlottesville VA, WPKN Bridgeport CT, and Radio LaGuagua Argentina!

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Country United States
City Los Angeles
State/Province California
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17 responses to “Donna Deussen”

  1. Mark Tucker says:

    “THANK GOD A JAZZ SINGER FINALLY COVERED CALIFORNIA DREAMIN AND DID IT A RIGHTEOUS!!! I’ve been waiting for that for four decades! Donna Deussen knocks it screaming out of the ballpark. John Philips, were he still with us, would be exultant. Ah, but let’s not stop at Johnny ’cause the very next cut is Steely Dan’s Do Right Shoes, and Don Fagen’s gonna go into rapture when he hears this version. As I’ve been noting for some time now, it’s well past the moment the successors to The Great American Songbook were covered, and that sentiment’s slowly spreading to the jazz world, Deussen making excellent contributions (her take on Joni’s Both Sides Now isn’t radicalized but it’s very very sweet, even to the point of multi-tracking a duet with herself, and I love it when singers do that).

    Deussen’s version of On the Street Where You Live is OUTSTANDING (geez, I better knock off the capitalizations or the whole review is going to be nothing but!), taking the chestnut sprinting down to the end of the pier and jumping off to dance the Lindy Hop with amped-up mermaids, swingin’ and then some. You have not, I guaranfuckingtee, heard the hoary ol’ chestnut done like this before. Deussen is an extremely confident singer; I don’t think it’s possible for her to make even the most minor mistake or for a microsecond quaver in her choices. You can tell she knows exactly what the next 10 moves are going to be while simultaneously permanently in the pocket, forever in the moment, and then projecting forward to where everything should lead.

    It’s a CRIME that this is only Deussen’s second slab. She should have 10 out by now, be soundtracked in movies, appear on TV, and find herself featured in Playboy Jazz Fests. Take my word for it, y’all, this is one of the country’s most talented singers, one of the best I’ve EVER heard. On the Street is a definite in the year’s 30 Best.”

    Mark S. Tucker – F.A.M.E. (Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange) (Apr 6, 2015)

  2. Jordan Richardson says:

    “The blending of talents featured on On the Street Where You Live, the new recording from jazz vocalist Donna Deussen and guitarist Paul Weitz’s trio, is deeply satisfying. It’s also very organic, with the album feeling like it came together over black coffee and the recording taking place between sure friends. In essence, that is the story.

    “Several of the arrangements came while sitting around Paul’s kitchen table, just throwing out ideas and experimenting with different sounds and rhythms,” says Deussen. “We’d just sit there and record something on Paul’s little Zoom recorder, until something sounded right.”

    “California Dreamin’” is slipped into 3/4 time and benefits from a few interesting twists. Van Benschoten’s bass is warmly prominent in the mix, pushing the tune forward as Donna Deussen’s magnificent tone takes hold. And Wayne’s saxophone blisters through like a hot breeze on a hotter night, crisply delineating this rendition as pure jazz fire.

    Other familiar cuts follow and there’s more uniqueness to be found, like on the glorious Joni Mitchell track “Both Sides Now.” Deussen taps to the emotional core of the piece while kicking up the tempo a smidge and throwing in more layers. It’s a bold move, but it pays off.

    The simmering “Do Wrong Shoes” is another highlight, with the robust textures of Donna Deussen’s voice really taking hold. She sensually stretches words and adds just the right thick punch where it counts. Weitz adds swanky accents and springs into action for a fluid, fluent solo.

    On the Street Where You Live is a tremendous example of what happens when a unit connects and the music is found on the same page. There’s no sense of ego and no insufferable “performance.” Instead, Donna Deussen and Paul Weitz’s trio manage a remarkably pure and superbly fresh record. This is “kitchen table jazz” at its finest.”

    Jordan Richardson – Something Else Reviews (Jan 30, 2015)

  3. Michael Bailey says:

    “Deussen has released two recordings, about ten years apart. Side-by-side, They offer a staccato look at the singer’s evolution. In a highly competitive field, Donna Deussen is deserving of much more attention than she has been given. Her time has come.

    1. Donna Deussen High Wire (2003)
    Creative arranging can give new life and reconsideration to jazz standards. Deussen joins Sutton and Nancy Wilson in the forefront of using arrangements to reveal the nuances of these well-crafted songs.
    Deussen blows the carbon out on her wide-open take of “Blues In The Night.” Guest saxophonist Eric Marienthal gives a bar-walking R&B solo that gives way to a slow blues vamp before Deussen heats things up again singing torch at 2000 degrees. High Wire is fully formed and realized as a debut. What does Deussen do next…?

    2. Donna Deussen and the Paul Weitz Trio On the Street Where You Live (2014)

    …she expands her repertoire with a creatively programmed assembly of songs. “California Dreaming” opens the disc with a gentle jolt that is not fully realized until Deussen shows off her scat chops and duels with tenor saxophonist Wayne Wayne. Deussen’s scat singing is full-throttle. She scats as naturally as she sings. The after-hours thrill of Donald Fagen’s terminally hip “Do Wrong Shoes” is accentuated by bassist Matt Vanbenschoten’s walking tempo seasoned with guitarist Paul Weitz’s too-cool stylings.

    Weitz’s crack trio combines with Deussen’s voice is like a perfect fall pie crust, rich and comfortable. A spare and humid coupling of “Black Coffee” with “Night in Tunisia” highlights the recording with the most inventive of arrangements. Deussen dances with Wayne’s tenor saxophone, bouncing phrases off the hornman like an inspired handball player; the singer has the upper hand.

    On the Street Where You live is beautifully completed and realized. Deussen’s voice, if anything, has become more like itself: more comfortable and compliant. Deussen never over-sings. Very good show, here!”

    ON C. MICHAEL BAILEY’S BEST RECORDINGS OF 2014 LIST:

    http://www.allaboutjazz.com/c-michael-baileys-best-recordings-of-2014-beat-kaestli-by-c-michael-bailey.php

    C. Michael Bailey – All About Jazz (Oct 8, 2014)

  4. Chris Spector says:

    “Better keep an eye on your comfort zone, torches are being passed… A degreed jazz singer in her own right, when Deussen left the classroom, she turned to Tierney Sutton to teach her the rest of the moves needed for the real world. For a jazz diva, she’s made the oldies a more recent vintage… You can bet this super thrush is a star that’s going to be shining quite brightly quite soon.”

    Chris Spector – Midwest Record (Jan 13, 2015)

  5. George Harris says:

    “Donna Deussen has a warmer than Tierney Sutton tone to her voice, and teams it up well with guitarist Paul Weitz and his cast of Matt VanBenschoten/b and Gus Duffy/d. They do some clever things with 60s pop tunes like “California Dreamin’” and “Both Sides Now” giving a bit of flair to the folk tunes. Deussen sounds assured on the intimate take of “The Very Thought of You” and gets a bit spry with Duffy who shifts gears like a Ghia during “On the Street Where You Live.” Her tone can exude confidence and sass during a strutting “Sister Sadie” which features a gleam in Deussen’s eye. Fun and inviting session.”

    George Harris – JazzWeekly.com (Sep 25, 2014)

  6. Scott Yanow says:

    “California Dreaming” gives Donna Deussen an opportunity to display her range, power, and improvising skills (she fearlessly trades off with Wayne). The menacing strut “Do Wrong Shoes” is succeeded by an uptempo “On The Street Where You Live” which starts off as an unaccompanied vocal, gets hotter as it goes, and has an inspired arrangement that keeps one guessing. On this selection as throughout the set, it is clear that the musicians are having a great time, coming up with fresh ways to play familiar songs. There is no shortage of energy heard throughout the program, with Nudell and Wayne offering consistently colorful and strong solos that challenge the singer to come up with her best ideas; Ms. Deussen is particularly exuberant on “Sister Sadie.” This is a highly enjoyable and recommended CD, that serves as a strong example of the music of Donna Deussen and Paul Weitz.”

    Scott Yanow – L.A. JAZZ SCENE (Aug 6, 2014)

  7. The Jazz Page says:

    “On The Street Where You Live by singer Donna Deussen, accompanied by guitarist Paul Weitz and his trio, is thoroughly entertaining work. What’s impressive about the project, in addition to wonderful performances by singer and band, are the nicely re-configured arrangements of tunes from a range of periods. It’s clear that much thought and time went in the development of the new incarnation of the tunes and it pays off quite well. The lively chemistry between singer and band is yet another important reason to check out this truly enjoyable effort.”

    – The Jazz Page (Apr 10, 2015)

  8. Susan Frances says:

    “An array of classic pop tunes and cabaret novelties are given waltzing jazz rhythms and bluesy atmospherics … in the merging of “Black Coffee” and “A Night in Tunisia,” Deussen’s vocals adapts to the shifts in the rhythmic changes, alternating between a sensual glide and a bopping scat vamp while Wayne Wayne’s saxophone infuses sparks into the melody. Deussen’s waltzing vocals in “Fly Me to the Moon” gives the track a feminine touch as Geoff Nudell’s improvisations on clarinet shrouds the tune in graceful silhouettes. Pop songs are sweetened with a dash of jazz and a scoop of blues in Donna Deussen’s and Paul Weitz’s hands. “On The Street Where You Live” has a melodic finish and smooth fluidity that music lovers can’t resist.”

    Susan Frances – AXS Entertainment – Examiner.com (Jan 11, 2015)

  9. John McDonough says:

    “Surprise embraces, then violates the familiar. Without the second, the first has no reference point. Donna Deussen‘s jazzy, sea-breeze voice finds a bubbling equilibrium between the two here, unmasking the unexpected ballad hiding inside the kindergarten cadences of “If I Only Had a Brain,” and a swift effervescence you’d never expect “On the Street Where you Live.” Her scat interludes fizz with the assurance of a lady who knows her Ella inside out. (Clarinetist/flutist) Geoff Nudell and (Saxophonist) Wayne Wayne provide sparkling instrumental ballast.”

    John McDonough / writer for Downbeat (Jul 29, 2014)

  10. Pam Baumgardner says:

    “…The first thing that caught my attention was Donna’s amazing voice; it’s smooth as silk and sexy as hell.

    I’ve spent a lot of time with this one cruising around and while working on the computer and though I have no chance at hitting those notes, I find myself singing, trying to imitate Deussen in the privacy of my own home (or with the windows rolled up); well, there’s always my next lifetime.

    That bass line on “Do Wrong Shoes” and the smooth jazz guitar coupled with extraordinary vocals is completely seductive. I’m also loving the Joni Mitchell classic, “Both Sides Now,” “The Very Thought of You,” but if I were pressed for a favorite, I’d have to go with the mash up of “Black Coffee” / “A Night in Tunsia.” The pace is picked up slightly and intensely as the sax work closes the deal for me.

    I always know new music strikes a chord with me when I can envision listening to it on a hot summer day cruising the coastline in a convertible as I do with this one; but I can also envision orchestrating the perfect intimate candlelight dinner for two with this as the backdrop. “On the Street Where You Live” from Donna Deussen & the Paul Weitz Trio will fit in quite nicely to your music collection.”

    Pam Baumgardner – Ventura Rocks (May 17, 2014)

  11. Myrna Daniels says:

    “…Deussen is a fine vocalist who brings a lot of thoughtful emotion to the material…Weitz is a terrific guitarist… one of the best new CDs out now and highly recommended….”

    Myrna Daniels – L.A. Jazz Scene (Jul 19, 2014)

  12. Scott Yanow says:

    “…a talented singer with an attractive voice… [Donna] excels on such material as Chick Corea’s “High Wire” and Joni Mitchell’s “River,” singing lyrics with sensitivity and honest feeling… High Wire will be enjoyed by fans of warm jazz-inspired vocals.”

    Scott Yanow – LA JAZZ SCENE

  13. John McDonough says:

    “I regularly read obituaries on the demise of the American song canon. So why is it that so many of best and smartest younger singers — the real virtuosos who actually can sing — keep doing them? Without getting nostalgic or academic about it, Donna Deussen nails a dozen ASCAP beauties on her High Wire CD with cool assurance. A bright voice under the control of an agile musicianship and wise good taste.”

    John McDonough – (writer for Downbeat)

  14. John Gilbert says:

    “… on “Blues in the Night”, Donna struts through this tune like she owns it. This is the blues the way it ought to be presented… on “Blues Skies,” Irving Berlin somewhere is nodding appreciatively in Donna Deussen’s direction. The American love song is often a thing of exquisite beauty and that is certainly the case in the last tune on this recording “With Every Breath I Take” Donna Deussen shines like an aurora borealis on this ballad. Her phrasing is impeccable, her tone is clear, and a joy to the ear of the discerning listener. 5 Stars”

    John Gilbert – EJazzNews.com

  15. Bob Muller says:

    “Two Thumbs WAYYY Up! This is easily one of the most enjoyable CD’s I’ve heard all year…I hear a lot and don’t get the urge to write about many, but I just have to spread the word on this one. Donna gets it ALL exactly right; her pitch, rhythm, and most importantly her feel for these songs is right on target as she sings in a variety of styles. Her voice is always pleasing, and she gets vocally creative without wandering into diva territory. Her backing trio is powerfully subtle, lending support and flexing their own muscles while staying true to the composition. Great production (also by Ms. Deussen) makes a perfect blending of all the elements. Highlights? Every track! I’ll be spinning this one a LOT, and recommend it very highly.”

    Bob Muller – CDBaby.com

  16. Ken Borgers says:

    “Favorite Cuts are: #5, 6, 7, 8, and 11; and Yes! We will be playing your CD at our station!“

    Ken Borgers – D.J. – KCLU Radio 88.3 FM

  17. George Harris says:

    “High Wire is a debut recording by an artist that’s got a lot of vocal spunk. With an air-tight rhythm section of Mark Massey (piano), Aldo Bentivegna (drums) and Anders Swanson (bass), Donna Deussen confirms audibly that she is a sweet-toned delight that has an articulated and well timed delivery. And she uses her incredible skills to put an extra pizzazz into a varied collection of jazz standards. Deussen gracefully gallops along at Chick Corea’s frenetically paced “High Wire” and keeps her collective cool without breaking into a sweat. Supported by Bentivegna’s sublime brushwork, she gets laid way back on “Skylark”, as well as sounding vulnerable and fragile on the wispy “With Every Breath I Take” with keyboardist Massey.”

    George Harris – All About Jazz

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