opened her show at the Baltimore Museum of Art Sunday with two finger-snapping songs recorded by the late, great Shirley Horn: "Travelin' Light" and "Don't Be on the Outside." The implication was obvious: Washington D.C. native Horn always had to fight for respect as a jazz pianist, because most people couldn't see past the fact that she was also a gifted, attractive female singer—and DeRose is fighting the same battle. She made some more headway this weekend.

She began "How Deep Is the Ocean," for example, with several minutes of unaccompanied piano before she sang a word. And it wasn't a polite, pretty piano solo either; it was full of clanging, percussive chords and eighth-note runs that skittered away from the melody and into new harmonic territory. When she was finally joined by her trio-mates—bassist Greg Ryan and drummer Anthony Pinciotti—DeRose eased into Irving Berlin's lyrics, suggesting that her love is as deep as the ocean. Near the end of the piece, she silenced all three instruments and confided in an intimate, purring whisper, "If I ever lost you, how much would I cry?" She seemed to swoon as she answered with another question, "How deep in the ocean, how high is the sky?"

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DeRose, a 43-year-old native of Binghamton, N.Y., was an elvish presence on stage with her tousled mop of blonde hair, rimless glasses, and green-striped pullover. She had an impish sense of humor, explaining for instance that she got her love of rumba rhythms from the dance lessons her mother taught at an Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Binghamton, and then parlayed that love into a joyous romp through "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." And when she sang Kurt Weill's "Speak Low," she began light and breezy over the brisk swing but soon followed Ryan's muscular walking bass lines into a robust instrumental interlude that featured solos by all three musicians, each one speaking more loudly and boisterously than the last.

DeRose is not a singer who happens to play piano; she's a pianist who happens to sing.

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