What do you get when you put a gorgeous blond who sings like Billy Holiday, with a 94-year old trumpet player, a former keyboard player for Engelbert Humperdinck and a former trombonist from Johnny Mathis’s orchestra?

Answer: One helluva jazz band!

When Denise Blondeaὺ belts out the tune, “Take All of Me,” by legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday, you pay attention. For a moment you’re captured in a time warp, listening to one of several female jazz icons who sang in the 1930’s in clubs, speakeasies, and dance halls where jazz bands would play their new music.

But let’s take this story further. While Denise is one talented lady, she brings with her jazz players who are just as talented as she. In fact, her keyboardist is named Eddie Tobin and he toured with Engelbert Humperdinck for seven and a half years as his music director, pianist, conductor and arranger.

Add to the above mix a 94-year-old “killer” trumpet player named Joe Bruno, Sr., and Timothy Eaton, a trombonist who played for Johnny Mathis’s orchestra when Mathis played at the Van Wezel.

As the curator of the band, she calls “Jelly Roll Jazz,” Blondeaὺ seeks out the best caliber of jazz performers in Sarasota and offers her band up for private parties as a duo, trio or quartet. Many of her gigs are with corporate clients, private country clubs and at parties in private residences.

Blondeaὺ says she curates each performance by combining the right players, instruments based on the clients’ needs and jazz genre preferences offering Duo, Trio and Big Band experiences.

To understand Blondeau’s passion for music, is to go back to Michigan the home of Rock & Roll & Motown.   At an early age, her parents marveled at their young daughter listing to Lou Ralls and all the greats, knowing she was destined for greatness, too, someday.

At age 14 she was introduced to “Lady Sings the Blues” and the “calling” hit her hard! From that point on, she was well on her way to being a jazz performer.

Today, she’s settled into Sarasota after living in San Francisco and Israel. Although she is not Jewish, she speaks fluent Hebrew, so add that to the list of talents this gal brings to the microphone and is a big perk for the Jewish community who want to hear jazz lyrics sung in Hebrew!

“Sarasota is a melting pot city for all musicians, artists and all performers,” says Blondeau. “Everyone who appreciates good music should be grateful to being able to see the top artists in the country right here in Sarasota.”

But the sad truth is that while Sarasotans love to hear fine musical talent, they don’t realize that musicians are not paid the kind of fees that allow them to live in Sarasota.

Blondeau is hopeful that Sarasota will follow the lead that other musical cities have taken to provide for their artistic pool. She references New Orleans, New York and Seattle which provide rent controlled housing for musicians (https://www.housingfinance.com/developments/new-artist-housing-opens-in-seattle_o). “Why can’t Sarasota do the same for our aspiring artists who are an integral part of our music and cultural world here in Sarasota?”

An article in the Observer Newspapers in 2021 reported the city (Sarasota) rejected the Arts and Cultural Alliance’s proposed partnership to bring affordable live-work space to the North Trail. “Let’s hope we find a solution to this problem in the near future as we want to preserve our thriving music community here in Sarasota.”

In the meantime, Jelly Roll Jazz is available for private functions, and is seeking bookings from organizers of gated community events in clubhouses, private home parties, and also corporate events and fundraisers.

To book Jelly Roll Jazz:


415 732 9011


blondod@hotmail.com or  blondodenise7@gmail.com


FUN FACT  (unrelated to Denise Blondeau)

“Jelly Roll“Morton

Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe (later Morton; c. September 20, 1890 – July 10, 1941), known professionally as Jelly Roll Morton, was an American ragtime and jazz pianist, bandleader, and composer. Morton was jazz’s first arranger, proving that a genre rooted in improvisation could retain its essential characteristics when notated. His composition “Jelly Roll Blues”, published in 1915, was one of the first published jazz compositions. He also claimed to have invented the genre.

Morton also wrote “King Porter Stomp”, “Wolverine Blues”, “Black Bottom Stomp”, and “I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say”, the last being a tribute to New Orleans musicians from the turn of the 20th century.