Jazz Voice featuring:
Natalie Williams, Roachford, Krystle Warren,
Sarah Jane Morris, Sheila Jordan, Kurt Elling,
Guy Barker, Cibelle, Kirsty Almeida & Natalie Merchant
@ the Barbican
13 November 2009
Click an image to enlarge.
Krystle Warren biography
Born and raised in Kansas City, music was casual in the Warren
home, from her grandmom’s eight track tapes to the lullabies
her family sung around the house, to a brief and much-hated stint
in the church choir. She herself remembers starting to sing at the
age of four, but it wasn't until she saw an ABC special on The Beatles
at age 13 that she really became passionate about learning and performing
music. Warren’s learned her first chords by ear from Rubber
Soul and Revolver, and her musical horizons quickly expanded to
include grunge (Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden), classic Brit
Pop (The Kinks, The Who, The Faces) and even jazz, in particular
Betty Carter, Nina Simone, Kurt Elling and even Mel Torme. With
these diverse influences, it wasn’t surprising that she quickly
developed a sound of her own.
At 17, Warren took her fledgling songwriting skills out into KC’s
thriving counterculture, befriending numerous avant-garde artists,
from painters to street poets to singers, who gave her the support
to move forward with her music. “I knew a lot of amazing
people in Kansas City,” Warren recalls, “quite
a few musicians and composers who were really into something new.
Though I started in the singer/songwriter scene, I began performing
in a lot of jazz spots when I was about twenty, and those folks
were really helpful in my education.”
While Warren never perceived a glass ceiling on what she could
accomplish musically in the Midwest, she did feel a growing wanderlust.
“I could have gone anyplace, Austin, San Francisco; it didn't
matter much to me. I just wanted to see something new, and somehow
that place was NYC. I did choke up a bit leaving KC - I’d
never lived anywhere else. My very first night in NYC was thrilling,
but after crashing on numerous couches in the West Village, I began
to feel like I was in over my head.” Warren eventually fell
in with some jazz musicians, moving into their apartment in Harlem.
This was one of many collaborations, and within a year Warren had
met the musicians who were to form the core of her steady band,
With The Faculty on board, Warren’s live shows have been
garnishing praise from both fans and critics alike, and she’s
toured the US with artists ranging from Martha Wainwright to Zap
Mama, from Rodrigo & Gabriela to Erykah Badu. Warren also recently
had the opportunity to fulfil a dream by performing at the legendary
Newport Folk Festival. “The best part of Newport, other than
playing, was the backstage community - at one point I was standing
next to Elvis Costello and Diana Krall, watching Bright Eyes perform!
Another high point was when I was missing a guitar strap, and Emmylou
Harris’ manager came over and offered me her guitar strap.”
Ever since bulldozing his way onto the scene with unforgettable
tracks like “Cuddly Toy” and “Family Man”
in the late 80s, Andrew Roachford’s maverick take on music
has spread far and wide. As the first artist to sign a staggering
seven-album deal with Columbia Records, it heralded the beginning
of something big. “Getting signed and being a black British
artist gave me a sense of pride” enthuses Roachford.
Like any artist worth their salt, Andrew Roachford’s music
is the result of many things. Raised in south London to West Indian
parents, as a child of the 70s and 80s, it's no wonder that his
music sounds the way it does. Influenced by everyone from Curtis
Mayfield and Al Green to The Roots, D’Angelo and Jill Scott,
Roachford’s formative years were also spent listening to Radio
One, reggae and jazz. Pinpointing the beginning of his musical career
as a child he vividly remembers being mysteriously drawn from his
bed to play the piano in his living room. “There was always
a piano in the house and I just got up and started playing even
though I’d never played before. There was something quite
surreal and magical about it.”
Born into a musical dynasty, his uncle Bill Roachford was a virtuoso
saxophonist whose claims to fame includes teaching Ronnie Scott
and Femi Kuti how to play Sax. The musical ball really started to
roll however, when Roachford hit the road with his uncle. Playing
gigs on the jazz circuit in those days, gave him a good grounding
for things to come.
“I got lucky enough to start gigging when I was about
14. I was in the middle of that whole jazz scene which was an interesting
education. It taught me musically, how to listen and how to entertain.
My uncle always told me that you had to give people a show.”
Although only 25 years old, Brazilian born Cibelle has already
garnered many valuable years of experience in recording studios,
on live stages and at the bars, clubs and restaurants that make
up São Paulo’s vibrant live scene. It is often said
that music is the life-blood of Brazilians: Cibelle is living proof.
At the age of six she was immersed in a São Paulo conservatory
studying classical music (as well as acting). Until she decided,
a couple of years later, that she wanted to play music intuitively
- i.e. by ear, rather than by a stuffy rule book.
“I suppose it was a bit pretentious”, she laughs.
“Needless to say, it didn't work out at the time, so I started
playing volleyball instead. But even then I carried on making music.
I was everyone's radio in the locker room”.
Cibelle continued to study acting but found herself continually
choosing roles that allowed her to sing. Her acting skills, vocal
prowess and good looks helped her quickly carve a career in television
as well as making her a natural choice for radio advertisements.
At the tender age of seventeen, she was composing her own songs
in her head, writing poetry like crazy and began to discover the
alluring charms of São Paulo’s burgeoning ‘jam’
“I was kind of helped into it,” recalls Cibelle
with a wistful smile. “One helper was an ex-boyfriend
whose family were musicians and used to have jam sessions at the
house each week. I would join in with them and they would often
ask me why I didn’t do something professionally. Another friend
was an Australian girl living in São Paulo. She was also
a singer and introduced me to the local spots where we could watch
jam sessions and hang out with the musicians. One day I went to
a gig with her, and she told me there was going to be a special
guest. When it was time to introduce the guest, she stepped up to
the microphone, pointed at me and said “Ela Canta”...
And sing she did - nightly. For the next couple of years, Cibelle
continued acting, modelling and writing poetry in the day, but threw
herself wholeheartedly into music in the evenings, putting in guest
appearances at any bar that would give her the chance to perform.
One night, Cibelle ended up on stage with a tall, mysterious Serbian-born
producer known as Suba. They didn't know each other but after just
one performance together, knew they had something special. They
arranged to meet the next day. Suba played Cibelle the music he
had been working on for an album and a musical marriage was born.
“It was this crazy samba stuff with all these cool synths,”
recalls Cibelle. “It was exactly what I had been looking
for. I knew I wanted that sound”.
Tragically, Suba passed away in a fire in 1999, but his ever-adventurous
musical spirit lives on through Cibelle, who has dedicated her debut
album to him.
Kurt Elling biography
Elling is an eight-time GRAMMY nominee who has spent the last nine
consecutive years at the top of the Down Beat Critics poll and the
last four consecutive years winning the JazzTimes Readers’
poll. He has won five Jazz Journalists Association Awards for Best
Male Vocalist and the Prix Billie Holiday from the Academie du Jazz
in Paris. His quartet tours the world continually, performing to
critical acclaim in Europe, the Middle East, South America, Asia
and Australia, and at jazz festivals and concert halls across North
America. In addition to leading a regular quartet that features
collaborator Laurence Hobgood, Kurt Elling has spent recording and/or
performing time with an array of artists that includes Terence Blanchard,
Dave Brubeck, The Clayton/Hamilton Orchestra, Benny Golson, Jon
Hendricks, Fred Hersch, Charlie Hunter, Al Jarreau, David Liebman,
Joe Lovano, Christian McBride, Marian McPartland, The Bob Mintzer
Big Band, Mark Murphy, John Pizzarelli, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and The
Yellowjackets. He has written multi-disciplinary works of art for
The Steppenwolf Theater and by commission for the City of Chicago.
Kurt Elling is a former National Trustee and National Vice Chairman
of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (The GRAMMYS)
and has been artist-in-residence for the Monterey Jazz and the Singapore
Kurt Elling’s rich baritone voice spans four octaves and
displays an astonishing technical facility and emotional depth.
Elling has an awesome command of rhythm, texture, phrasing, and
dynamics, often sounding more like a virtuoso jazz musician than
a mere singer. His repertoire ranges from his own compositions to
modern interpretations of standards, both of which can be the springboard
for free form
improvisation, scatting, spoken word and poetry. As composer and
lyricist, Elling has written scores of his own compositions and
set lyrics to the songs and improvised solos of many jazz masters.
In addition to the compositional work he has done with collaborator-in-chief
Laurence Hobgood, Elling has collaborated in the creation of new
pieces with John Clayton, Fred Hersch, Bob Mintzer, Charlie Hunter
Davis, among others.
One of Kurt Elling’s major contributions is as a writer and
performer of vocalese, the art of writing and performing words over
the recorded improvised solos of jazz artists. Elling often incorporates
images and references from writers such as Rilke, Proust, Kerouac,
Rumi, Neruda and Kenneth Rexroth into his work. The natural heir
to jazz pioneers Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure, and Jon Hendricks,
Elling is the contemporary voice of vocalese, setting his own deeply
spiritual and compelling lyrics to the solos of Wayne Shorter, Keith
Jarrett, Dexter Gordon, Pat Metheny, and others. Responding to the
work, no less a poet than the late Robert Creeley wrote, “Kurt
Elling takes us into a world of sacred particulars. His words are
informed by a powerful poetic spirit.” Elling’s lyrics
were published in a book entitled LYRICS by Circumstantial Press
Kurt Elling has been featured in profiles for CBS Sunday Morning,
for CNN, and in hundreds of newspaper and magazine reviews and articles.
The Washington Post declared, “Since the mid-1990s, no singer
in jazz has been as daring, dynamic or interesting as Kurt Elling.
With his soaring vocal flights, his edgy lyrics and sense of being
on a musical mission, he has come to embody the creative spirit
in jazz.” Said Jazzreview.com, “This is a singer of
supreme confidence, a vocalist at the top of his game and a true
master of jazz vocalese.” The Chicago Tribune decided that
“Kurt Elling is going to change many listeners’ minds
on the meaning and purpose of Jazz singing.”