Take Five With Antoinette Montague

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Meet Antoinette Montague:

Antoinette Montague likes to say she simply sings "people music." Make no mistake about it, she is a jazz singer through and through, but one who pushes the genre's boundaries. On her new recording, Behind the Smile, Montague sings classic jazz standards (new and old), resurrects lovely-but-obscure melodies, blends in blues and gospel through her vocal shadings, and puts entirely new jazz arrangements to material from other genres such as R&B, classic soul and pop.

Working in the jazz idiom, she shows she can take a song from any composer, any genre, and make it live and breathe as a jazz performance accessible to many audiences. By blending her various influences, the resulting sound realizes her ambition, as she puts it, "to make vocal jazz a musical style with broad appeal to all age groups, all strata of society, all nationalities; every person who simply enjoys good music. I don't believe jazz should be something only appreciated in a textbook, from an obscure music journal or on an old dusty record. I believe jazz can be easily enjoyed by the general public whether they think they are jazz lovers or not."



Antoinette Montague's new CD is on In The Groove Records (distributed by Allegro Music) and is available in record stores nationwide, online at major webstores (including Amazon and CDBaby), and at numerous digital download sites such as iTunes.



Antoinette was mentored by some great singers—Carrie Smith

Carrie Smith
b.1941
("She inspired me to have a big voice onstage"), Etta Jones
Etta Jones
Etta Jones
b.1928
vocalist
("She could transport the audience"), Della Griffin
Della Griffin
b.1925
("She showed me laidback phrasing and how to use the comic side of my personality") and Myrna Lake ("She let me sub for her and that's when I learned to lead a band through three sets a night"). In addition, Montague has performed onstage with many top jazz and blues musicians including Jimmy Heath
Jimmy Heath
Jimmy Heath
b.1926
sax, tenor
and the Queen's Jazz Orchestra, Jon Faddis
Jon Faddis
Jon Faddis
b.1953
trumpet
, Lou Donaldson
Lou Donaldson
Lou Donaldson
b.1926
saxophone
, Red Holloway
Red Holloway
Red Holloway
1927 - 2012
saxophone
, Benny Powell
Benny Powell
Benny Powell
1930 - 2010
trombone
, Earl May
Earl May
Earl May
1927 - 2008
bass
, Mike Longo
Mike Longo
Mike Longo
b.1939
piano
, Tom Aalfs, Winard Harper
Winard Harper
Winard Harper
b.1962
drums
, Wycliffe Gordon
Wycliffe Gordon
Wycliffe Gordon
b.1967
trombone
, Stan Hope, John J. DiMartino
John J. DiMartino
b.1940
drums
, Bernard Purdie
Bernard Purdie
Bernard Purdie
b.1939
drums
, Victor Jones, Tootsie Bean, Zeek Mullins, Paul Bollenback
Paul Bollenback
Paul Bollenback
b.1959
guitar
, Frank West, Tommy James, Payton Crosby and numerous others. Montague also has recorded in the studio with Norman Simmons, Paul West, Joe Farnsworth
Joe Farnsworth
Joe Farnsworth
b.1968
drums
and Tom Aalfs.



For Behind the Smile, Montague assembled the same jazz masters she worked with on her debut album, Pretty Blues. She credits the band with having "immense artistry and a wealth of credits—pianist Mulgrew Miller

Mulgrew Miller
Mulgrew Miller
1955 - 2013
piano
(Woody Shaw
Woody Shaw
Woody Shaw
1944 - 1989
trumpet
, Art Blakey
Art Blakey
Art Blakey
1919 - 1990
drums
, Betty Carter
Betty Carter
Betty Carter
1930 - 1998
vocalist
, Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
b.1960
saxophone
, Cassandra Wilson
Cassandra Wilson
Cassandra Wilson
b.1955
vocalist
, Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
b.1956
vocalist
); saxophonist/clarinetist/flautist Bill Easley
Bill Easley
Bill Easley
b.1946
saxophone
(Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
Orchestra, Benny Carter
Benny Carter
Benny Carter
1907 - 2003
sax, alto
, Ruth Brown
Ruth Brown
Ruth Brown
1928 - 2006
vocalist
, George Benson
George Benson
George Benson
b.1943
guitar
, Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater
b.1950
vocalist
, Isaac Hayes
Isaac Hayes
Isaac Hayes
1942 - 2008
vocalist
, Dakota Staton
Dakota Staton
Dakota Staton
1932 - 2007
vocalist
); drummer Kenny Washington - Vocals
Kenny Washington - Vocals
Kenny Washington - Vocals
b.1957
vocalist
(Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
b.1927
sax, alto
, Betty Carter, Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
, Clark Terry
Clark Terry
Clark Terry
b.1920
trumpet
, Joshua Redman
Joshua Redman
Joshua Redman
b.1969
saxophone
, Phil Woods
Phil Woods
Phil Woods
b.1931
sax, alto
); and bassist Peter Washington (Art Blakey, Benny Green
Benny Green
Benny Green
b.1963
piano
, Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
1908 - 2002
vibraphone
, Marlena Shaw
Marlena Shaw
Marlena Shaw
b.1942
vocalist
, Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
1938 - 2008
trumpet
, Michal Urbaniak). Kenny Washington produced, Montague executive produced, and Miller and Montague arranged the material.



Montague wrote the title tune, and uses that theme as the general concept behind most of the selections on the album. "I find it interesting, and sometimes heartbreaking, to look beyond people's smiles. Sometimes smiling faces tell lies. Other times someone puts on a brave smile with a lot of pain behind it. Some smiles are hopes to get other people to smile, but just as often there is embarrassment or a broken heart just behind those upturned lips. Or it could be a smile of love or spiritual connection."



Antoinette's most astounding interpretations on the album are two Motown soul songs from the Sixties and early 1970s—Smokey Robinson's "Get Ready"(a big hit by both The Temptations and Rare Earth) and Marvin Gaye's timeless political masterpiece "What's Going On." Both tunes are re-imagined as swingin' jazz pieces. "These are just wonderful songs that deserve jazz treatments. I believe the best way to preserve the Great American Songbook is to include more music in it, to expand the decades. The second half of the last century is the second section of that great songbook."


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