Denise Thimes In The Spotlight
The St. Louis native continues to showcase her extraordinary vocal skills in Chicago and beyond
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VOCALIST Denise Thimes has long made her presence known in Chicago, performing at various venues around the city, including a summertime outdoor tribute to Ella Fitzgerald at DuSable Museum as part of “The Centennial Celebration of Ella Fitzgerald.”
Now the native St. Louis performer has decided to make Chicago her home, and almost immediately––before becoming totally settled––she showed why the Chicago jazz crowd has embraced her so fully. In a two-night tribute to the legendary Nancy Wilson at Winter’s Jazz Club, Thimes relied on her commanding voice, engaging stage presence and her rapport with the audience to signal a new chapter in her life, one that already is catapulting her to the top ranks among noted jazz singers. Consider legendary jazz trumpeter Clark Terry, who once described Thimes’ voice as “a perfect mix of Nancy, Sassy, Lady Day and Carmen.”
That’s high praise, and Thimes wasted no time to display her immense talent to the Winter’s Jazz Club audience. Accompanied by Adaron “Pops” Jackson (piano), Marlene Rosenberg (bass), Charles Heath (drums), Henry Johnson (guitar) and Lenard Simpson (saxophone), Thimes opened the tribute with the Academy Award-nominated song, “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home to,” written by Cole Porter for the 1943 film Something to Shout About. Her soothing and passionate rendition was reminiscent of Nancy at her best.
During her career, which includes being cemented as part of St. Louis’ jazz foundation, Thimes has been a kind of sassy performer who mixes her singing with frequent conversation with the audience. Her style is not unique but highly effective as a solo artist or while working with jazz fixtures such as Wynton Marsalis, Tony Bennett, Clark Terry, Billy Taylor, Earl May, Benny Powell, Bobby McFerrin and James Moody. Additionally, her voice––which varies from ample to sultry––has been showcased while touring with the likes of saxophonist David Sanborn, and during performances for the Queen of Thailand, Queen Elizabeth II and President George W. Bush at the White House. Further, she was personally selected by Aretha Franklin to perform as part of her 72nd birthday celebration.
Thimes, already one of the cherished voices of modern jazz, comes by her love for music naturally, growing up in a home where she was exposed to a wide range of genres. Her father was radio icon Lou “Fatha” Thimes, a legendary radio personality in St. Louis from the late ’50s through the late 1970s. He was a star who remained on radio for more than 50 years and had the distinct pleasure of being able to play his daughter’s records.
Back to Winter’s Jazz Club, Thimes’ set continued with songs that are pure Nancy, including “The Very Thought of You,” “‘S Wonderful,” “When October Goes” and “I Thought About You,” a tune that she perfectly finessed with her incredible vocal range. But no tribute to Nancy Wilson would be complete without her signature “Guess Who I Saw Today?” Thimes prepared the excited and anticipating audience for what was to come next by urging the men to pay the bill before she began singing the classic song about a male cheating heart. For the next six minutes or so in song she beautifully told the story about how a woman unexpectedly saw two people at the bar “who were so in love, even I could spot it clear across the room.” But that man happened to be her man.
This was Thimes’ second scheduled appearance at Winter’s after filling in for an ill Paul Marinaro on New Year’s Eve. Now that she has moved to Chicago, she will be much more visible at jazz venues around the city. Already, she’s scheduled to return to Winter’s to present a tribute to the legendary Nina Simone.
Welcome to Chicago, Denise Thimes.
Singer Denise Thimes recently performed a tribute to the legendary Nancy Wilson at Winter's Jazz Club, one of the hottest jazz clubs in the area.
In the midst of some other performances, Thimes is scheduled to return to Winter's Jazz Club to perform a tribute to the legendary Nina Simone.
"Denise's performances reflect a distinct style that delights audiences with a mixture or smooth, mellow tones and rich 'bluesyness'. Her scat takes audiences where jazz legends play."
–– Exodus To Jazz
For more information on Denise Thimes and her schedule of performances, go to www.denisethimes.com. And for more information and the schedule of performers at Winter’s Jazz Club, go to www.wintersjazzclub.com.