Full of enthusiasm and reverence for American’s original art form known to the world as jazz, Denyse Pearson and her Gentlemen of Distinction are live! This ensemble of longtime friends and performers have each made their respective impressions and contributions to the world of jazz music at home and abroad for three decades. Each is an artist in their own right and in mutual appreciation for one another have joined forces to present the selections for tonight’s presentation. Whether teaching, studying, or performing, these dedicated musicians -- Denyse Pearson, Derek Gasque, Donnie West, J.C. Jefferson, Jr., Muneer Nasser, and Steven Bundick-- are proud to be in the full spirit and joy of performance for the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage audience.
Denyse Pearson whose distinctive, mellifluous voice and sparkling personality bring to life the American Jazz Songbook artfully and masterfully. Roosevelt Jackson, her first vocal coach sent her forward to perform the music she was born to sing. A native Washingtonian, Denyse attended Howard and Maryland universities and has performed at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club to rave reviews, frequently in Washington, DC Westminster’s Jazz in Southwest, Café Agape, aboard the SS Norway North Sea jazz cruise, and also has traveled to Amsterdam, Switzerland, France and Norway answering the call of music performance. A multi-talented entertainer and composer/lyricist, she is also an actor most recently seen in the HBO series Veep. She has opened for vibraphonist Roy Ayers, saxophonist Richie Cole, pianist Ahmad Jamal and was invited to the stage by jazz great Joe Williams. She was mentored by Shirley Horn, and studied with pianist John Malachi who worked with the legendary Sarah Vaughn. Denyse was nicknamed Ms. Finewine because of her mellow sound by her mentor Calvin Jones pianist/trombonist former Director of the UDC Jazz Orchestra.