The most important thing about Dennis Rowland, in terms of reputation, is that he started to work with Count Basie Orchestra in 1977 and continued to be the orchestra’s vocalist for 7 years. Famous singers like Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams had been a part of the Basie Orchestra before, and having their spot and singing with the Count Basie Orchestra is no doubt very incredible and a life-time experience. Dennis Rowland also shared the stage with Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald, which is very important to mention.
I must say Dennis Rowland has a really great voice and phrasing. He is completely able to deliver the lyrics to you, in a rich and strong way. My ideas are based on studio recordings and online videos, but I am sure it must feel great to see him singing live. He obviously enjoys singing a lot, and is full of life on stage. This way, he fills the stage and warms you with his unique voice.
Dennis Rowland, thankfully, has been interested in answering my questions about Frank Sinatra.
Hello Mr. Rowland, I am Ozgun Akalin, owner of TheFrankSinatra.com. I would like to thank for accepting to answer my questions and sparing your time. I also want to thank because I have been able to contact you directly, instead of via a manager. Your personally answering your fans is really great!
I would like to start with my questions now, here they are.
Have you felt “complete” after being the vocalist of Count Basie Orchestra, or do you consider those years as a starting point of a new era of your life which includes more things to accomplish?
At the time, I looked at it as being the beginning of a new phase. I had been singing around Detroit, for years. Joining the band was huge.
A lot of my career, I owe to Mr. Basie. There were of course, some disappointments, but, still worth it. Though I recorded with the band, I was not credited……On The Road.
I have 3 cds on Concord Records, along with several compilations. Records with Ray Anthony.Les Brown, and Joe Sample. I tour Russia, and Germany yearly.
Sinatra and you enjoy singing same songs, worked with Count Basie, and have a unique style. Apparently, you have many things in common with Sinatra in terms of music. Do you think you are walking a similar path like Sinatra walked in his long life? In what ways do you think you are similar to and differ from him?
As far as being similar is concerned, again thank you for your opinion. As a singer, we share a similar vocal range. Yes, we share repetoire, but he was the first to sing some of them. He also was fortunate to know a lot of the composers, personally. All the arrangers wanted to write for him. He had first choice.
His phrasing, and musicianship, are legendary. All of us owe him a debt of gratitude. As a singer with bands, he was able to hear and learn. Much like me, but the difference, I think, is that in his day, he had radio, movies, and of course, live show opportunities, that helped him.
I had lots of live shows, but the other avenues were not there. Jazz players loved him, because he was one of them. Like him, I too am a band guy. I was never given any billing. There was no effort to advance my career, past being the band’s singer. I made my rep., performing live. If you didn’t see me you didn’t know who I was.
What do you think about Frank Sinatra in general? How would you consider his affect in jazz, or music as a broader topic?
His effect on music, all consuming. Class in performance. His swingability. His approach to newer material, ie: pop tunes..beatles, jobim,.
Do you have any memories related to Frank Sinatra that make you smile when you remember? Can be a show if you watched him live, or a chat you had with your friends, maybe William Basie, about him.
I was blessed to be at a recording session for, Duets 1. His singing of ‘Tears Out To Dry’, will be with me always. Thanks to Gregg Field, I was able to attend.
My last question is, on what are you focusing in your musical career these years? What are your plans for the future?
I have done many nusicals,J.C.Superstar, Chicago. Big River, and two short films. Real Gone Cat, and Fagland Tales. Lots of commercials, and voiceovers. I continue to persist, and pursue, mycareer. Would I like more work, yes. Would I record again, yes. I remain active, and available.
Thank you Dennis Rowland, for answering the questions frankly. I wish you accomplish more in your future career.
Well, I have some opinions about Dennis Rowland. I have listened many jazz singers in the past years, and after listening so great performances, it is not easy to name someone “good”, of course. But I really find Dennis Rowland “good”. Not that he sings all songs very nice (in my opinion of course), but his one performance has shown me what he is really capable of. I have watched his live performances on YouTube, and “You Go To My Head” really hit me.
His voice is simply amazing. He has a wonderful tone, and is really affecting. I would like to include his performance in my post.
His performance has a very suitable arrangement and orchestration for this song, which helps him deliver the lyrics as intended. I would like to compare this version with Sinatra’s, and I must say I like this more. I think this song suits better to Dennis Rowland’s way of singing.
“Though I am certain, that this heart of mine, hasn’t a ghost of a chance, in this crazy romance, you go to my head”
Just listen to the part “in this crazy romance”, and see how he makes the song his own with 4 words. After this, orchestration takes the lead, which could be much better, and Dennis Rowland starts with the last part of the song, which I love most.
“The thrill of the thought that you might give a thought to my plea, casts a spell over me”
“So I say to myself, get a hold of yourself, can’t you see, this never can be”
He completes these 2 well sang lines with a unique phrasing of “this never can be”, which tastes of a little Armstrong, more Rowland.
“You intoxicate my soul with your eyes”, again a beautifully sang line, again continues with,
“Though I am certain, that this heart of mine, hasn’t a ghost of a chance, in this crazy romance, you go, you go to my head” which is again very outstanding. This time, he sings “you go to my head” part much much better and ends the song awesome as it deserves, which surprised me.
It surprised me, because I never thought I would listen such a great version of this song. I always felt something missing for this song. It is a very great song, but it could be much better. Thanks to Mr. Dennis Rowland, “You Go To My Head” has become my favorite song for the last days, and has taken its place among my playlist.