One number can go big for an artist and become his signature piece: Coleman Hawkins' Body and Soul, Dave Brubeck's Take Five, Nat King Cole's Mona Lisa. Dee Kaye Ibomeka's second set at the Top O' the Senator in Toronto, Wednesday, October 13, had a number in it that could become his signature: I Turned Your Picture to the Wall.
At his two previous shows this year, one a solo, and one with Jaymz Bee's Royal Jelly Happy Gang, both on record, we heard Dee Kaye taking off with upbeat, happy, swing standards, which he put across mainly with his rich, real vocal talent, and a kind of cheery attitude. Now he's in full flight. He doesn't just sing: he gets right into the song, fearlessly soaring or plunging into ripe emotions, expressed without inhibitions in his facial and bodily gestures. His vocal dynamics show great control, especially as he glides into a quiet passage. The room knows he's a full-fledged performer at work, with the solid back-up of a quartet lead by Tony Quarrington on guitar.
Was there a challenge to Michael Kaeshammer in Dee Kaye's rendition of Comes Love? Was there a hint of future direction in his tribute to Billie Holiday's Fine and Mellow? I'm not sure they were his best songs of the night. I can't quite hear Jazz or Blues coming out of him just yet, though I feel they are in there. But right now, Dee Kaye rules with the torchy ballad. Yes, he's a Soul Singer.