Duke Eatmon

Groove Innerviews

“People ask me, did I move to Montreal for my career, I say no, I moved here for my soul.” This was the way local red-hot jazz singer Deanne Matley described her relocation to Montreal, from her native Calgary. Matley recorded her last full-length album “Because I Loved” here four years ago and became instantly attracted to the city. “Calgary’s an amazing city but there’s just something about me that resonates with Montreal in a much more powerful way”.

Matley, however does cherish her Calgary roots as well. She’ll be performing at Ironwood for a couple of engagements with The Prime Time Big Band on Sept.25th and Oct.9th. She’ll also return to Calgary later this year for a Christmas concert with Prime Time as well.

Matley is currently in the studio with renown Montreal jazz bassist and producer extraordinaire (as well as her surrogate MTL dad) George Doxas for a full-length album due out next spring. “It’s a full-on vocal jazz album which is exciting. I’m recording it at George’s (studio). It’s coming out next April. The album is called “hOmmage” and it’s celebrating a wonderful Canadian jazz pianist”, Matley chuckled. “It’s a secret,” she cooed.

As she waxed poetic about her upcoming release, she chose to remain mum on the record’s concept. However, her description of it being a celebration of a wonderful Canadian ivory tickler as well as the upper case “o” in the album’s title makes one wonder if it’s about legendary Little Burgundy-born pianist Oscar Peterson?

Featured on “hOmmage will be another Montreal pianist who’s no slouch himself on the 88 keys, Taurey Butler.  “He and I have really developed a great friendship. We’re creative together but we also hang out and eat pizza. We have this thing where every month we go out try out all the best pizza places in Montreal because pizza is his jam!”

The former food server and clothing saleswoman, who also sold ads in a weekly Calgary newspaper, at one time contemplated becoming a professional life coach when she wasn’t sure of her calling. She then had an epiphany about her musical gift. “I had taken music lessons. I sang in theatre, did barbershop (harmonizing) and I sang in R&B and classic rock bands. I was gigging quite a bit, but my ‘aha’ moment was when I would do a gig and people would come up to me with tears in their eyes because I made them cry or made them smile or made them cry and smile! That’s when I realized the universe was nudging me. I realized that I had a superpower and that I might lose it if I didn’t use it on a more regular basis and get my shit together. Not that I minded selling advertising, but I knew that that wasn’t necessarily my calling,” she said with another infectious chuckle.

Legendary Montreal jazz chanteuse Ranee Lee is one who recognized Matley’s gift and has publicly praised Deanne in the press. “It blew my mind when I saw that. She’s one of my mentors here in Montreal. She’s such an intuitive and beautiful woman. She recognizes the ‘super-power’ and she’s just waiting for me to fully shine.”

Matley, who also sang in the jazz choir in high school, has an eclectic taste in music. When she decided during the recent pandemic to go on recording spree and release digital singles almost once a month, she explored other genres as well. One of her hot singles this summer was the soca inspired Palm Tree Party, complete with a video clip of Deanne dancing on a beach with friends.

Her most recent single is a cover of the 2014 joint Electric Love by Borns with Matley and her buddy, keyboardist David Ryshpan. The two constructed a new arrangement for the tune, that slows it down dramatically and adds a sense drama to it. Some noticed that the original was sung to a woman from the perspective of a man. Matley chose not to change any of the song’s pronouns. “You know, I’m committed to this word ‘she’. I had many people that said he’s singing to ‘she’. Are you going to change it to ‘he’ and I was like – No! Why do I need to change it to a he? What does it matter what pronoun I sing? This is about love and connection, no matter what pronoun (you use). So for me, I thought, I love women. I love men. It’s kind of like my way of connecting with everyone on a level. Sometimes I just feel it doesn’t matter anymore. I feel it’s about the connection of music and love no matter who’s listening. I also thought if i was singing it at a wedding, I could also be singing it to the bride from the groom, you know what I mean? It’s kind of like how everyone wants to interpret it. I’m not going to get hung up on the pronouns. I’ve always changed the pronoun in the past and then I decided that it doesn’t matter. It’s a beautiful song and it’s meant to connect people in general, no matter what the dynamics are.”

Matley’s cover on Electric Love as well as her breathtaking covers of other jazz standards like; Makin’ Whoopee, Golden Earrings and others are all available at iTunes and all streaming platforms! www.deannematley.com

Duke Eatmon’s music segments can be heard regularly on CBC Radio’s Let’s Go, hosted by Sabrina Marandola on 88.5 FM