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Take Five With Jackie Allen

Take Five With Jackie Allen
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Meet Jackie Allen: Critically acclaimed vocalist, songwriter and Blue Note recording artist Jackie Allen celebrates the release of her ninth album, Starry Night, live with chamber orchestra. Her CD features star-themed songs arranged by seven extraordinary arrangers who have written for such legendary artists as Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
, Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
1915 - 1998
vocalist
, Doc Severinson, Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
b.1950
vocalist
, and Diana Krall
Diana Krall
Diana Krall
b.1964
piano
.

Her three previous albums Tangled, Love Is Blue and The Men In My Life have received glowing reviews. The Los Angeles Times remarked that "Allen's greatest strength is her sheer musicality and the way in which she both frames and interprets her song." Billboard Magazine calls "her gift utterly distinctive and even innovative—a masterpiece. It's revelatory and sounds effortless." People Magazine declares Jackie's performance is "expressive, bright, dramatic, sassy, tender. Download this!"

Jackie has performed multiple tours of the US, Europe, Morocco, Brazil, China and Taiwan. She currently teaches at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Jackie has served multiple terms as a Board of Governors for the Recording Academy (Grammy Awards). She now resides in Indiana with her husband and bassist Hans Sturm with their son Wolfgang.

Instrument(s): Voice.

Teachers and/or influences? I've listened to countless vocalists and have been influenced by a lot of them. Jazz notables are: Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
1917 - 1996
vocalist
, Sarah Vaughan
Sarah Vaughan
Sarah Vaughan
1924 - 1990
vocalist
, Nancy Wilson
Nancy Wilson
Nancy Wilson
b.1937
vocalist
, Mark Murphy
Mark Murphy
Mark Murphy
b.1932
vocalist
, Helen Merrill
Helen Merrill
Helen Merrill
b.1929
vocalist
, Jimmy Scott, Shirley Horn
Shirley Horn
Shirley Horn
1934 - 2005
piano
, Etta Jones
Etta Jones
Etta Jones
b.1928
vocalist
and Cassandra Wilson
Cassandra Wilson
Cassandra Wilson
b.1955
vocalist
. Pop and folk notables include: Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
b.1943
vocalist
, Rickie Lee Jones, Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
b.1950
keyboard
and Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt

guitar, slide
.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I saw Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan in the early '80s back-to-back on a Friday and Saturday at the Kool Jazz Festival in Milwaukee.

Your sound and approach to music: I love this music because I can make it my own, even if I didn't write it. I let my imagination and the lyric guide the arrangements as well as the musicians around me.

Your teaching approach: I assess a student's level and work from there. Singers often come to basic theory and keyboard skills late, since they have used their ears to get them pretty far. I try to give them skills to find quality charts, transpose, play the chord progression, learn the original melody and find a way to interpret the song for themselves.

Your dream band: I really dig the guys I'm working with right now—John Moulder: guitar; Mike Kocour: piano; Hans Sturm: bass; Dane Richeson: drums. We just finished our fourth album together and I have another one I'm working on. I can't imagine a group I feel more comfortable with.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: I was a guest artist singing with a university ensemble in Wisconsin in the early '90s when, during the dress rehearsal the pianist, a resident professor who was playing right behind me, collapsed and died of a massive heart attack. Under the stage lights in the theater stood the students and the conductor who was a long-time fellow colleague, frozen. It all seemed quite surreal. Needless to say the concert was cancelled, and after the two hour drive back to Chicago I found I couldn't just go home so I sat in at a club and shared the news to a stunned audience.

Favorite venue: In Taiwan we played a concert at an all-girls college and they responded to us as if we were a rock act, screaming and cheering. It was quite a surprise as well afterward signing autographs for hundreds of young enthusiastic girls.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Each recording I've done is very special to me and marks a place in my (and the bands) musical development. That said, I might say that The Men In My Life stands out because it was the first album where I invested my own money and where I first used my existing band. It also marks a turning point for me where I started getting away from the classic jazz vocal repertoire and allowed myself to take songs that were popular from my own youth and find a way to express myself through them.

The first Jazz album I bought was: I don't remember exactly but early ones included Miles Davis' Star People, Ella Fitzgerald's Live at Newport, Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley and Pat Metheny's Still Life (Talking).

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? It would have to be the teaching aspect, passing this music on to another generation is important but I never think of it that way as I'm doing it. It's just fun to interact and share music. It's where I often get my own inspiration.

CDs you are listening to now: Anything by Ivan Lins
Ivan Lins
Ivan Lins
b.1945
keyboard
, lately I've been going back to listen to Mark Murphy since I heard he is suffering from Alzheimers, and Louis Prima
Louis Prima
Louis Prima
1910 - 1978
composer/conductor
(my son digs him).

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Download jazz mp3 “Call Me Winter” by Jackie Allen Download jazz mp3 “Diana” by Jackie Allen
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