Take Five With Joan Crowe
Meet Joan Crowe: A slightly twisted and superbly talented chanteuseTom Staudter, New York Times.
Joan Crowe gets to the heart of a songs story. And shes funny. And she is beautiful. She gets the hat trick, is how Michael Bourne of WBGO describes Joan. A long time supporter of her work, he wrote the liner notes for her debut CD, Bird On The Wire, which garnered rave reviews in LA Jazz Scene, Jazz Improv, All Music Guide, Cadence, JazzReview.com, All About Jazz and others. Joining her on the CD is Tedd Firth on piano, Jay Leonhardt on bass, Scott Neuman on drums, George Walker Petit on guitar, and Justin Flynn on sax. She recently returned from a successful tour of Berlin, Prague, and Amsterdam, as a result of the international airplay her CD has been enjoying.
New York Newsday called her, as polished as a diamond." Joan Crowe is a versatile singer with an extensive repertoire of jazz, standards, pop, rock, blues and folk. Joans comic ability earned her the 2002 MAC Award (Manhattan Association of Cabaret and Clubs) for Female Musical Comedy.
She started her musical career in cabaret but caught the jazz bug when she opened for Joe Lovano in 2002. Since then she has played in many prestigious jazz clubs, including The Jazz Standard, The Iridium Jazz Club, Sweet Rhythm and Birdland. In her live shows, she is a risk taker and likes to combine jazz with several musical genres and then add bit of comedy.
She performs regularly with her ten-piece band High Society Rhythm. Her credits include performances at The Rainbow Room, The Oak Room in Grand Prospect Hall, The Carnegie Club, Trumpets Jazz Club, The Manor, The Hackensack Cultural Arts Center, Westchester Conservatory of Music, Rockland Center for the Arts, The Emelin Theatre, Archies Place, The Plaza Hotel, Dont Tell Mama, Brunellis, Eighty-Eights, Orchard Street and The Globe, Harrys of Hartsdale, Coyote Flaco, Zuppas, Dannys Skylight Room, The Duplex, Judys Chelsea, The Cinegrill in Los Angeles, Odettes, Teddy Cares, the National Society of Arts and Letters, the ASCAP songwriters showcase, and the Mable Mercer Cabaret Convention at Town Hall.
She is very proud of the money she has raised for Breast Cancer and other charities performing one of her four cabaret shows: Women of Note, a tribute to Women Songwriters. Time Out New York selected her as Critics Pick for her cabaret show, Shooting Stars, which earned her first MAC Award nomination in 2000. Her show As the Crowe Flies was dubbed Fabulous! by Bloomberg Radio, Hilarious! by the Associated Press, and earned her a second MAC Award nomination. The Devil in Miss Joan, a hysterical look at good and evil, garnered her the coveted MAC Award for Musical Comedy in 2002.
Before she switched to singing, she had a successful acting career and was well known to daytime viewers in a recurring role on All My Children. Joan has also appeared on screen in Working Girl and An Eye For An Eye with Sally Field. Classically trained with an MFA from the Asolo State Theatre and a BFA in Theatre from Indiana University in Bloomington, her acting credits are extensive. She has performed regionally at the Asolo State Theater, Kennedy Center, Indiana Repertory and The Phoenix. Her New York acting credits include Dance Theatre Workshop, Altered Stages and Theatre Works USA.
Teachers and/or influences? My early influences were the folksingers my mother liked and took me to see like Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins and Joan Baez. She also took me to see The Who when I was nine. The Beatles were big in my preteen years and then I got into the male singer songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Dan Fogelburg and Bob Dylanthe more tortured the better. I came to a love of jazz relatively late, when I started listening to and loving Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith which led to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Nina Simone and Ruth Brown.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I had what I like to call a Breast-Feeding Epiphany. One late night up with my daughter, I was imagining myself as an eighty year-old woman doling out wisdom to my grand children and saying, If I had my life over to do over again, I wish I would have sung more. Then I realized that if I did live to be eightyI do have my life to live over! So the next day I made some calls and found a voice teacher and started to embark on a singing career.
Your sound and approach to music. Lyrics have always been important to me. I need both a great melody and great lyrics to connect to a song. Coming from an acting background, I like to tell a story. I think of songs like mini plays in some ways. I am also a laughter junkie so I am drawn to material that I hope will make an audience laughif they are not laughing I want them to be crying.
Your teaching approach: Though I am sometimes asked to teach, I raely accept as I have reservations that young minds should be exposed to my warpped world view. I figure messing up my own 2 kids is enough.
Your dream band: I love this question, in fact I was just asked it recently in a WBGO interview with the wonderfully supportive Michael Bourne. My dream band today would be to have Matt Wilson on drums, Jay Leonhardt on bass, and Dave Frishbug on piano. These three gents all bring so much humor to their playing, which I love. Plus think how much fun the breaks would be!
Anecdote from the road: The favorite part of my shows is usually what I call the "Carol Burnett Moment." At some point in the course of a show I invite the audience to ask me anything they want and I used to promise to tell the truth. This often yields some pretty funny moments. I like the danger of it, though I have learned to leave off the promise of truth part as I have been asked some pretty embarrassing questions.
Favorite venue: In New York my favorite venue is The Jazz Standard. It is clear the management loves and respects musicians, and the ribs are fabulous.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Bird On The Wireumbecause it is my only CD to date.
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? My sense of humor.
Did you know... That I gave birth to an eleven-pound one ounce baby girl!
How you use the internet to help your career? The Internet is a huge help and also a huge time suck. It is great for getting the word out about gigs and people all over the world can find your musicusually in my case by accident.
CDs you are listening to now: A big pile I got at IAJE I am working through and my fourteen year-old son bought me one that we have to listen to when he is in the car. I think it is pretty obvious which are which:
Matt Wilson's Arts and Crafts, The Scenic Route (Palmetto); Bill Evans and Randy Brecker, Soul Bop Band Live (Soulbop Records); Jack Black, Tenacious D (Sony] (I even took him to the concert at Madison Square Gardens to get cool Mom pointsI got lots of points).
Desert Island picks: I hate this question because I can never decide on just fivethis is not a good question for a Gemini, but today the ones that pop into my head first are: My own compilation CD that I made of favorite tracks from Ella, Sarah, Ruth Brown, Dinah Washington, Joni Mitchell, Rosemary Clooney, Bette Midler and other chick singers; Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Legacy Recordings); Carol King, Tapestry (Sony); Dan Fogelburg, Nether Lands (Sony); The Beatles, The Beatles 1 (Capitol).
How would you describe the state of jazz today? Oh my God I dont knowin danger?
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Reaching out to the young kids and exposing them to this music.
What is in the near future? Im currently working on my second CD.
By Day (if you have a day job) I hesitate to share this as there is often a prejudice against Wedding Band musicians, but I lead a ten-piece, lets call it a Big Band or Society Band, called High Society Rhythm. It is a lot more work than I thought it would be. Remember those two kids of mine? They might like to go to college one day. The original idea was to support my jazz career and so far I have been able to make one CD and am working on my second.