I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I was singing "I've Got a Crush On You" at the Soundsation Jazz Camp. It was my summer before 8th grade. I started off super nervous, but I felt the entire room grow warm and happy and I knew that was how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I felt like I could make people happy by making music.
Your sound and approach to music: With every concert, I want everyone to have a great time. Just like being the hostess at a party, you want to work hard and make it look effortless. You have to be aware and open to what is happening in the room and be there to facilitate the fun.Vocal Sound: I want it to be clear, strong, and emotionally connected. I want people to hear the smile in my singing. The sound has to reflect the emotions of the story.Bass Sound: Strong attack, full tone, centered pitch. I also want the pulse to drive.
Your teaching approach: I want my students to have their skills together so they can play or singing whatever they hear in their heads. Through solid fundamentals, transcribing, play and exploration they can develop their own sounds and styles. I also want them to know what it takes to be a good leader and team-mate.
Your dream band: I'm really fortunate to have wonderful guys to work with. The new CD has Jeff Hamilton and Bruce Forman on it. That is definitely one of my dream bands. I have a little bucket list, I suppose, but I'm more into the long-term playing/friendship situations. Kenny Barron
is one of those guys I would enjoy playing with (beyond what I'm getting out of my iPod). For me, a dream band consists of the people who are focused on the same goals and have a great time doing it. I have that with my current band of Magnus Hjorth (piano) and Snorre Kirk (drums).
Road story: Your best or worst experience: Back in 1994, I did my audition for Telarc at a club in Chicago with the Ray Brown Trio. Benny Green
and Jeff Hamilton were in the trio at the time. I was to sing one song with the trio and then I would play/sing a solo. When we got to that time, we discovered that the club didn't have a microphone stand. Ray put his arm around me and held the microphone for me. I was soooo nervous!!! I shook the entire time and I didn't really do a very good job. After the gig, Ray walked me back to my hotel and asked if I wanted another shot at it. It would just be for us. No pressure. It was such a relief for me and such a thrill the next night. It was the greatest gift Ray could give me.
Favorite venue: I have a few venues I really enjoy: 1. Montmartre in Copenhagen is really lovely. Everyone is there to hear the music. It is a cozy room with great sound and the vibe is always warm and joyful; 2. I do an annual house concert in Los Angeles at a friend's house that is always a blast. Everyone dresses up, hangs out, meets new friends, and then enjoys the concert. It became almost more of an event than a concert; 3. I still have many places yet to play in this world, so there is room on my list. For me, it makes a huge difference if there is good sound, good piano, and nice attentive people. We take care of the rest.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why? I can't really pick a favorite. I like them all for different reasons. That said, I'm really happy to hear my progression as an artist and storyteller as I listen from one CD to the next. They are all merely snapshots of me at various points in my life.
The first Jazz album I bought was:
Dianne Schuur, Deedles.
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? A sense of joy in music-making.
Did you know... I crocheted a blanket for my parents while I was feeling home sick in graduate school. It is still brutally warm and covers a king-sized bed.
CDs you are listening to now: Cubanismo!, Reencarnation; Marc Johnson/Eliane Elias, Swept Away;
Carmen McRae, The Original Decca Recordings; Kenny Barron, Canta Brasil; Mary Fettig, Brazilian Footprints.
Desert Island picks: This is a challenge for me to limit it to five. In no particular order: Ray Brown, Don't Get Sassy (Telarc); Nancy King & Fred Hersch, Live at Jazz Standard (MAXJAZZ); Sinatra/Basie, Live at the Sands (Capitol); Ella FitzgeraldAnything... Twelve Nights in Hollywood (Live) (Verve); Maria Schneider, Allegresse (Enja).