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Juliet Kelly was an unlikely prospect for jazz singer and composer. She was raised in London in a strict, religious household where only music of a specifically religious nature was allowed! She knew nothing about jazz, and she had never sung in public. Studying for a degree in economics, she enrolled in an a cappella jazz vocal class at a local music workshop.
Thus serendipitously did she discover her talent for singing and her love of jazz. Within a year she had auditioned for and been accepted into the postgraduate jazz program at London’s prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Since that time she has worked with many musicians from the other side of the pond, performing in venues around the United Kingdom, as well as Ireland, Italy, Germany, Israel and Australia.
She is backed in this her debut album by a fine trio of musicians, being joined on “Aphrodite’s Child,” “Siren Song,” and “When You Believe in Love” by alto saxophonist Tony Kofi, who has played with Branford Marsalis, Andrew Hill, and Jazz Jamaica. Ms. Kelly has a warm, rich, lush, natural instrument, and she sings with comfort and assurance. Except for Hammerstein/Romberg’s “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise,” and Adu/Matthewman’s “Your Love is King” (previously recorded by Sade), compositions are her own and personal, ranging from lovely ballads to relaxed, medium tempo grooves.
Taken as a whole, the album casts a luminous spell, with mesmerizing rhythms and haunting lyrics. With this auspicious a debut, Ms. Kelly is a talent whose future contributions will be eagerly awaited.
Track Listing: Alive & Free; Aphrodite
Personnel: Juliet Kelly (vocals), Mike Gorman (piano), Tom Barlow (bass), and Seb Rochford (drums), with guest artist Tony Kofi (alto saxophone)
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.