Reading Eagle newspaper

Wyomissing vocalist's career reinvention reaches its pinnacle
Longtime classical singer Deanna Reuben releases a new single, "If the Truth Be Told," penned by a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and two members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
WRITTEN BY DON BOTCH, FEATURES WRITER FOR THE  READING EAGLE NEWSPAPER
 MONDAY,  FEBRUARY 26, 2018
WYOMISSING, PA —
Deanna Reuben has overcome her share of obstacles in pursuit of the singing career that has been her life's passion since she was a teenager attending Wilson High School.
In the late '80s, while living in Washington, D.C., and singing with the prestigious Washington Singers and Paul Hill Chorale, she overcame damage to her vocal cords suffered while undergoing thyroid surgery.
Then, at age 50, after realizing she no longer had the stamina for the classical repertoire but not ready to call it a career, she decided to reinvent herself by retraining her voice for jazz and Broadway standards.
"That was a challenge," said the Wyomissing resident. "It took about a year. And I still sometimes revert back to that. It's been a fun journey."
That journey reached its pinnacle on Sept. 25, when an email arrived in her inbox out of the clear blue.
The sender was Peter Stoller, son of Mike Stoller, who teamed with Jerry Leiber to pen such rock 'n' roll classics as "Hound Dog," "Yakety Yak" and "Stand By Me." The email was just three sentences long:
"Dear Ms. Reuben, Mike Stoller heard you on the radio recently, and was quite taken with your voice. He's just completed a song with Marilyn and Alan Bergman, and wondered if you might be interested. I have attached a demo - please let us know what you think!"
"I was at home and checking my email, and I opened this up and went 'Oh my God,' and tears just started streaming down my face," Reuben said last week in reflecting back on that September day. "And Mark (her husband) goes, 'What's the matter?' and I went: 'No, no, no. No, no, no. It's all good.' "
Good, indeed. Reuben had just been invited to record "If the Truth Be Told," a song penned by a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with lyrics by a couple of members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame whose credits include "The Way We Were" and "The Windmills of Your Mind." It doesn't get much better than that.
She gave the demo a listen and knew right away that the slow, romantic bossa number, which sounds like a page out of the Great American Songbook, was a perfect fit.
"I could hear myself singing it," she said. "It was great. I always listen to the melody line, and I also listen to the chord progressions, and some of these writers that send me pieces to peruse that they've written, they're clunky. And this had just such a beautiful musical flow to it. I could really hear myself singing it. It was well written."
Reuben has recorded four albums since 2005, but getting back into the studio wasn't necessarily something she had been planning to do. CDs, after all, are a hard sell these days, and digital releases translate to cents but not dollars for artists, so it's hard to justify the expense. But recording this single was an opportunity she couldn't pass up.
"I said I would be crazy if I didn't do this," she said. "So I gathered my musicians - the ones I've used on other albums - and we started the project."
First she reached out to her longtime collaborator, Marty Mellinger, who owns and operates Cross Keys Recording in Bern Township, where she recorded three of her four albums.
"He has a very professional studio," she said. "It's state of the art, recording equipment-wise. And he's a phenomenal musician and arranger. A lot of people don't realize that, and I would say he could've been a classical concert pianist, as well."
Joining them were a couple of others musicians who have been by her side throughout this portion of her career: guitarist Paul Columbo, who helped with the arrangement, and bassist Steve Varner. And rounding out the ensemble was drummer John Rozum.
They finished the recording by Nov. 19, she sent it to the Stollers for approval, then arranged licensing and released it as a single last month on all the major online services.
Reuben said she has long been a fan of the Bergmans, citing their contributions to the canons of Barbra Streisand, who she idolized growing up, and Michel Legrand.
"I've sung a lot of their songs over my lifetime," Reuben said, "and I love them as lyricists - absolutely love them."
In fact, "How Do You Keep the Music Playing," with lyrics by the Bergmans, was the first song on Reuben's first album, 2005's "The Look of Love." She's also recorded their songs "Where Do You Start" and "After the Rain."
She said she's working on some other Bergman songs that Legrand sang, so if she ever opts to make another album, it would include those plus the new single.
But that's not in her immediate plans. For now, she's gearing up for a concert with her vocal ensemble called Four of a Kind, which will be presenting a Broadway revue as a fundraiser for Reading Civic Theater on April 20 at the Abraham Lincoln.
And she's basking in the glow of a career highlight.
"I think this is the pinnacle," she said of being asked to record "If the Truth Be Told." "This was the highest honor that I could've received. And coming from these great people from our musical time, it's quite an honor. So it's the icing on the cake. If I do nothing else, I can go out on a high note."
About Deanna Reuben
She graduated from Wilson High School and finished earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Alvernia University while her two daughters were toddlers.
She relocated to Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s to pursue her musical career and work in real estate.
She was a soloist with the prestigious Washington Singers and the internationally renowned Paul Hill Chorale.
Venues where she has performed include the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the Mann Center and Wolf Trap.
She has shared stages with the likes of Marvin Hamlisch, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman.
Since transitioning to singing standards, she has released four albums: 2005's “The Look of Love,” 2009's “On Life and Love,” 2012's “The Very Thought of You” and 2013's “Christmas Is Here.”
She and her husband, Dr. Mark Reuben, live in Wyomissing, where she teaches voice and piano.
She has served on the board of trustees of Alvernia University.
She's on the board of directors of the Reading Symphony Orchestra.
Listen or buy
Deanna Reuben's song “If the Truth Be Told” is a digital-only release. You can stream it at deannareuben.com or purchase it for 99 cents at major online music retailers including CDBaby, iTunes, Spotify and Amazon.

Press Release

Contact: Alan Shirk, alan@shirkcom.com, 610-374-8838

Website: http://deannareuben.com/

Play Song: http://deannareuben.com/audio/s/if_the_truth_be_told1

Photo Gallery: http://deannareuben.com/photo_gallery/

 

Jazz Artist Deanna Reuben Collaborates with Legendary Songwriter Mike Stoller and Lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman for Her Latest Single, “If The Truth Be Told”

 

Wyomissing, Pa.—Accomplished jazz vocalist and the Great American songbook performer Deanna Reuben of Wyomissing, Pa. collaborated with legendary songwriter Mike Stoller and lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman on her latest release, the single “If The Truth Be Told,” (http://deannareuben.com/audio/s/if_the_truth_be_told1) available on CD Baby and streaming on several major Internet sites, such as I-Tunes, Spotify, Amazon, Google, iHeart Radio, Pandora, Rhapsody and YouTube Music.  

 

Described as a “romantic ballad with a Latin feel,”  the music was composed by Stoller—who sought out Reuben to record it after he heard one of her songs on a syndicated jazz program on a Los Angeles radio station—and the lyrics by the Bergmans. Reuben said, “I was honored and actually blown away that I was asked to do their song. To say that I was on Cloud 9 is an understatement!”

 

Stoller and his late partner, Jerry Leiber, co-wrote numerous hits including early rock ‘n’ roll favorites “Hound Dog,” “Charlie Brown,” “Stand By Me” and “Spanish Harlem.” He continues to run Leiber-Stoller Productions in Los Angeles. The Bergmans have written the music and lyrics  for numerous celebrated shows, films stage musicals and individual artists--including Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra--and have won three Academy Awards for Best Original Song and have been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame

 

Reuben (http://deannareuben.com/ ) has been performing for many years and has recorded four previous albums. To produce “If The Truth Be Told,” she assembled a local team of musicians whom she has performed with many times at the Berks Jazz Fest and other venues, including pianist Marty Mellinger, bassist Steve Varner, guitarist Paul Colombo and drummer John Rozum. The song was produced by Reuben and arranged by her, Mellinger and Colombo. It was recorded at Mellinger’s Reading, Pa Cross Keys Studio and released earlier this month.

 

“Because we all had an excellent working relationship, we were able to produce the final versions in three takes incorporating changes and approval by Mike and the Bergmans,” said Reuben.  “Most of the work involved minor chord changes or mixing issues that were easily resolved. I was thrilled that we accomplished what we did.”

 

Reuben is a lifelong musician, teacher, choral director and composer who recorded her first CD, “The Look of Love,” in 2005. Her other albums include “On Life and Love” (2009), “The Very Thought of You” (2011) and “Christmas Is Here” (2013). She has performed at numerous Venues throughout the Mid-Atlantic states including the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Wolf Trap and Mann Center. Her syndicated music can be heard on numerous U.S. and overseas stations.

 

“Just like terrific reviews, commercial radio play is important to me since I am always open to recording other songs and compositions. For example, I had heard from two other composers who had heard me on LA radio, but when out of the blue Mike’s son, Peter, called and told me his Dad wanted me to record one of his songs, I was totally on board,” Reuben said.

 

Reuben, who has not recorded any other Leiber-Stoller tunes, but has covered three other Bergman songs on her albums—“Where Do You Start,” “How Do You Keep the Music Playing,” and “After the Rain”—is contemplating doing her own album of Bergman music, as well as evaluating other projects like “If The Truth Be Told.”

 

She said, “I don’t know where the next project is coming from or where I’m going, but I do know I’ll be doing my best to keep the music playing.”

 

Visit http://deannareuben.com/ to listen to or purchase “If The Truth Be Told” or any other of Deanna’s recordings, or to learn more about her music and career. Her songs and albums are also available through CD Baby, I-Tunes and Amazon.

 

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Alan and Marilyn Bergman Bio: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_and_Marilyn_Bergman

 

Mike Stoller Bio: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005469/bio

 

 2/27/2018

 

Independent Reviewer

Review: Christmas is Here

With material as tried, true and in some cases worn smooth as Deanna Reuben tackles on Christmas Is Here, the focus quickly shifts to her own approach – and Reuben, a former classical and opera singer, delivers the goods.

Christmas Is Here features a slate of expected Yuletide chestnuts, from “Silent Night” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to “Silver Bells” and “The Christmas Song.” The revelations, however, come early and often – beginning with Reuben’s joy-filled, yet delectably measured delivery. Very much in the style of a June Christy, this Pennsylvania native interprets these songs in an approachably learned manner that will delight fans of both jazz and pop. She’s able to project a whisper of winking sensuality without damaging the setting’s wholesome atmosphere, no easy thing.

 

The album is also pushed along, often with fizzy delight, by a crack team of Philadelphia-area musical vets – notably saxophonist Larry McKenna. Reuben’s band is rounded out by Paul Colombo on guitar, Steve Varner on bass and Jason Long on piano, Long also handled the arrangements on Christmas is Here. The bulk of the drumming duties were handled by Dan Monaghan, with Byron Landham sitting in on a trio of tunes.

Together, they breathe new life into songs that, on the face of them, would seem to have little tread left after countless readings.

For “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” Long’s spritely, West Coast-inspired asides are brilliantly countermanded by Monaghan’s insistent clatterings. Reuben, whose classical career was cut short by a vocal injury, moves with a witty grace through the proceedings, ramping up for a bold finish. They then combine Ted Shapiro’s “Winter Weather” with the Stein-Cahn classic “Let It Snow,” making a connection that should have been there all along. “A Christmas Love Song,” the Johnny Mandel favorite, finds Colombo’s guitar moving to the fore – and his ruminative lines only add to the smoky intrigue of Reuben’s loving take on the lyric. Glenn Barratt – the engineer and mixer on this date – then adds a cheeky background vocal as Reuben appropriates Eartha Kitt’s devilish whisper on “Santa Baby.”

McKenna’s brawny intro to “Silver Bells” is then the latest signal that Reuben isn’t about to settle for the rote route. They swing this song with a feverish delight. Mel Torme’s “Christmas Song,” on the other hand, is given a more straight-forward reading, though Monaghan remains active with the brushes, giving the song a quiet propulsion. Colombo’s Wes Montgomery-style riffs imbue “The Christmas Waltz” with a cool modernity, before Long and Varner tangle through a brilliant improv section. Reuben’s performance smoothly moves from a child-like innocence to a battered adult hopefulness on “My Grown Up Christmas List,” a track from David Foster and Linda Thompson Jenner that represents the album’s least-known moment.

McKenna’s retorts on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and a wonderfully flirtatious version of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” give both songs a deeper emotional resonance – and Reuben matches him stride for stride. Long’s crystalline intro to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” shimmering and direct, then sets the stage for one of Reuben’s most controlled performances. There’s plenty of room for the treacly here, and she walks that fine line like a circus acrobat.

Not everything connects. Barry Ciabattoni joins Reuben in a game, but ultimately too safe, update of the Ray Charles-Betty Carter favorite “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” They simply don’t share the same chemistry. But far more often, as on the closing “Silent Night,” Reuben and Co. find new corners to explore even in a house of songs so familiar as to be navigable even amidst a Christmas Eve slumber. The song unfolds like a loving embrace, the perfect ending for an album of sugar-plum surprises.

  • Artist: Deanna Reuben
  • Album: Christmas Is Here
  • Reviewer: Nick DeRiso
  • Rating: 4 stars

Jazz Inside Magazine

Jazz Inside Magazine – November 2013

This time of year always brings a variety of new Christmas jazz albums. Christmas jazz albums are usually quite accessible to an audience far beyond the jazz world. Most Xmas songs have attractive chord changes for jazz improvisers, ranging from the Dixieland of “Jingle Bells” to more sophisticated ballads.

Deanna Reuben’s early background found her enjoying Broadway show albums, taking piano and voice lessons, and singing in high school musicals. She was classically trained and after college became a choral director who performed with local opera companies. The highpoint of her early career was performing regularly with the 16-voice chamber ensemble The Washington Singers and singing as a soloist at Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Damage caused by neck surgery in 2003 forced her to end her classical career and switch to singing jazz and standards. Her career change has been successful and Christmas Is Here is her fourth CD as a leader.

Although there are times in some of her longer high notes when one can guess that she might have once sung opera (she has perfect control over her voice), throughout Christmas Is Here Deanna Reuben shows that she can swing, improvise with subtlety (mostly in her phrasing) and sound quite comfortable in a jazz setting. Her voice is lovely in all of its registers and one can easily understand all of the words that she sings.

Since she is based in Philadelphia, Ms. Reuben utilized some of the top local jazz musicians on this CD. Tenor-saxophonist Larry McKenna (a Philly legend) co-stars on three of the songs, guitarist Paul Colombo takes many fine short solos, and pianist Jason. “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” gets the set off to a jam session-flavored start. Performing “Winter Weather” and “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” as a medley proves to be an inspired idea, for the switch between songs during the third chorus sounds inevitable in retrospect. It helps that both tunes have similar messages. On “A Christmas Love Song,” Deanna Reuben shows off her range, hitting some beautiful high notes.

“Santa Baby” was originally a hit for Eartha Kitt but somehow the song, with its cute and sexy lyrics, recalls Marilyn Monroe. Ms. Reuben sounds just like Monroe during this witty version with Glenn Barratt contributing the background vocal. Usually a waltz, “Silver Bells” is effectively turned into a swinging piece in 4/4. Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song” is given a straightforward treatment while “The Christmas Waltz” is full of the Yuletide spirit. The most contemporary song this set is the
Kelly Clarkson hit “My Grown Up Christmas List” which is performed here as a sweet longing ballad. Always taken as a humorous duet vocal, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” has Deanna Reuben sharing the stage with Barry Ciabattoni. “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” (which was originally made famous by Gene Autry) features the singer performing the rarely heard verse before it becomes a swinging romp with Larry McKenna. The bittersweet “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve,” a heartfelt rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Silent Night” conclude this excellent set of Christmas jazz. The music is delightful and Deanna Reuben does justice to these beloved songs.

—Scott Yanow

Jersey Jazz Society

“Jersey Jazz” – November 2013

by Joe Lang

Christmas is Here (Deanna Reuben – No Catalog Number) is a straight ahead recording from vocalist Deanna Reuben. With fine arrangements provided by pianist Jason Long, Reuben assays a collection of popular Christmas songs with help from Long on piano, Paul Colombo on guitar; Steve Varner on bass, and Dan Monaghan or Byron Landham on drums. Tenor sax master Larry McKenna adds some tasty playing on three tracks, “Silver Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve.” Reuben has a nice easy-on-the-ears voice that lends warmth and understanding to the lyrics, and she swings too. This is a good one for when the chestnuts are roasting on an open fire.

In Tune International Magazine UK

In Tune International Magazine UK – October 2011

by Dan Singer

Deanna is delicate when she should be and forceful when it matters most – fresh as a singing daisey. There’s much to throw yourself into here.

A pair of Schwartz/Dietz songs can’t be bettered. The verse of “I See Your Face Before Me” just glows. The tenderness of their “Haunted Heart” should stay with you for quite some time. Her treatment of “Devil May Care” (Kirk/Dorough) is uptempo and uplifting. Ms. Reuben dazzles here and is wildly on key throughout. The title song (Noble) is almost still sung. Bob Meashey most ably helps out on the fluge/horn.

“Where Do You Start?” (Bergmans/Mandel) is a moody yet spellbinding musical treat. Deanna never lets us in a deep ingrossing beautiful cry for a romantic past most personal. It’s emotionally draining. One can’t go wrong with the pair of Duke Ellington songs: “Just Squeeze Me” (Gaines) and “I Didn’t Know Enough About You” (Russell). Both can’t be improved upon. There is so much more to wrap yourself into here in her third album.

Jersey Jazz Society

“Jersey Jazz” – September 2011

by Joe Lang

There are many singers out there who make albums that address the songs of the Great American Songbook. The Very Thought of You by Deanna Reuben is one of the better ones that I have heard recently. Reuben has a smooth an pleasant sound, straight ahead with a nice jazz feeling underneath. Pianist Marty Mellinger, bassist Steve Varner and drummer George Johnson form her basic support with guest appearances by the wonderful tenor saxophonist Larry McKenna, flugelhornist Bob Meashey, guitarist Paul Colombo and violinist Christopher Collins Lee.

The album is nicely paced with lovely ballad readings of songs like “Haunted Heart,” “Over the Rainbow” and “How Insensitive,” and easily swinging takes on tunes such as “Easy to Love” and “Devil May Care.” To close the program, Reuben sings “Cinema Paradiso” in Italian, accompanied only by the guitar of Colombo and the violin of Lee, and it is an interesting and daring, but effective way to close things out.

Midwest Record

Midwest Records – June 2011

Deanna Reuben / The Very Thought of You: A classically trained singer that found her feet under her in jazz, Reuben knows how to work a classic and deliver a solid performance. Straight ahead jazz takes on American chestnuts, this set has more bite than the typical set of this ilk that is just trying to fit the format. With a smoking crew of Philly jazzbos behind her, everyone is working like a unit and the results are always top shelf. A dandy find for straight up jazz vocal fans that love a singer that knows how to work in service to the song.

Jazz Improv Magazine

Jazz Improv Magazine – May 2006

The Look of Love

Deanna Reuben has been a presence in the eastern Pennsylvania and mid-Atlantic states for over thirty years. Yet, The Look of Love is her first recording. Better late than never. Now, the listeners who have been enjoying Reuben’s music all of these years can take the music home with them, so to speak. In addition, The Look of Love provides exposure for Reuben beyond her loyal cadre of listeners. In fact, anyone who enjoys romantic coverage of standards would enjoy her CD.

Reuben started her career with opera, theater, and choral directing. And she has opened for such acts as Yo Yo Ma, Marvin Hamlisch and Itzhak Perlman. Yet, she chose jazz standards and ballad form for her first album due to their ability to allow her to express her emotions… and her appreciation to the people who have encouraged her.

With exacting articulation and pitch, Reuben covers songs that allow her to become involved in the meaning of the lyrics. She takes “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” at a medium tempo, distinguished by Marty Mellinger’s sensitive accompaniment on keyboard, sounding more like guitar then piano. The other interesting element of Reuben’s recording is her work with tenor saxophonist Larry McKenna, who has been compared more times than he would like to Stan Getz. Yet, McKenna possesses a similar melodic approach that appeals to listeners with urgency and memorable phrasing.

In the case of “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” as one listens, it becomes evident that McKenna doesn’t merely insert instrumental commentary during the rests, but rather he’s an integral part of the recording as the liquidity of his playing effectively harmonizes with Reuben, even as he anchors her singing during the dramatic high points. On “Body and Soul,” which Reuben takes as a bossa nova, McKenna’s affinity with Getz comes into full play as he introduces the song with a strangely familiar sounds. But no, it’s not Getz and Gilberto, but rather McKenna and Reuben. That’s the kind of insinuating appeal that Reuben seeks when she chooses a song, selecting an alternative arrangement that’s consistent with her personality.

There’s “The Look of Love,” of course, the Burt Bacharach-Hal David song of many years ago that Reuben uses as an encapsulation of all that she intends to convey on the album. Once again, it has a Brazilian feel, as Reuben and Company elongate the words “look,” “love,” “in” and “eyes” for two measures, rather than one, adding a more haunting atmosphere to the song. In fact, Reuben is entirely consistent throughout the CD as all of the songs are taken at approximately the same tempo, playing to her strengths as an interpreter of ballads. On a few of the songs, like “If I Never Met You,” strings and woodwinds appear, even though they aren’t credited in the liner notes, as if Reuben were on stage instead of in a recording studio. But Reuben seems to have found her musical niche when she performs with Mellinger and McKenna, as they complement one another…and her…to create a like-minded group that makes her debut recording one that captures the spirit of her personality.

—Bill Donaldson

All About Jazz

All About Jazz

The Look of Love

Deanna Reuben captures the essence of romance through her heartfelt interpretation of our favorite songs. The Look of Love sends a message clearer than flowers or a box of candy or dinner and a movie. With this session, you get clarion vocals with a stellar jazz quintet that sparkles brightly through sensual ballads and upbeat rhythms. Tenor saxophonist Larry McKenna serves as Reuben’s musical partner, adding rapturous melodies to her resonant vocal themes.

With a fluid delivery, she shapes each song like clay. The rhythm from bass and drums gives each piece a heartbeat, while Marty Mellinger’s keyboards surround the session with synth strings and wallpaper of velvet. Reuben’s attack moves with emotional force as she sends a passionate message through her charming interpretations. With “Summertime,” for example, she explodes with the power of Shirley Bassey and creates lightning sparks along the way.

Most of the program, however, mellows out with soothing ballads that allow Reuben to wear her heart on her shirtsleeve. McKenna partners with her to add melodic grace. ”The Look of Love” stands out for its floating quality as the singer caresses the familiar melody with a hug and a kiss. “I Concentrate on You” puts Reuben and McKenna together in one of those simpatico relationships that bring out the best from all parties. In her upper register, the singer wears thin when the volume diminishes, causing some of her sheen to fade. She’s at her best when projecting forcefully up high and when crooning sweetly in the lower registers with that natural romantic spirit.

Reprinted with permission. © 2006 AllAboutJazz.com and Jim Santella.