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Madeline Eastman

DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE: Twice voted one of the Top Female Jazz Vocalists

DOWNBEAT INTERNATIONAL CRITICS POLL: Voted Talent Deserving Wider Recognition

A fearless improviser who seeks out equally intrepid collaborators, San Francisco jazz singer Madeline Eastman strips a lyric bare to reveal unspoken secrets and unanticipated meanings. With the intensity of a torch singer and the chops of a post-bop saxophonist, she’s forged a singular approach unlike any other vocalist on the scene, in what the Los Angeles Times describes as “a consummate, inventive, endlessly entertaining artist at work…a prime example of what jazz singing in the 21st century can be.” Her new collection of ballads, A Quiet Thing, a ravishing duo album with pianist Randy Porter, captures an artist rising to new heights, offering a master class in the art of improvisational storytelling. Eastman possesses an uncanny gift for communicating emotional insights with sophisticated, truthful phrasing that mainlines straight to the heart. She combines an alluringly lustrous sound with an in-the-moment ethos that turns every song into an uncharted journey prompting JazzTimes Magazine to describe her as “an inveterately unpredictable traveler who never fails to take us to magical places.” Exploring a delightfully diverse array of material, including haunting movie themes, unaccountably overlooked standards, and transformative interpretations of Sondheim, the Beach Boys, Chick Corea, Randy Newman, Alec Wilder, and Laura Nyro, A Quiet Thing captures Eastman’s startlingly intimate musical partnership with Porter. It’s a high-wire collaboration between equally fearless improvisers who treat songs less as launching pads than as living texts ripe for reinvention.

Eastman’s confidence stems from a lifetime devoted to jazz. Born in San Francisco, Eastman became enamored with the music at 18, first fascinated by Billie Holiday. She spent the next decade tracking down a series of pianistic mentors, working extensively with Bay Area jazz stalwarts Flip Nunez, Smith Dobson and Paul Poyten. She listened deeply to Miles Davis, particularly his mid-'60s quintet. Among vocalists, her prime inspiration is Carmen McRae, one of jazz's most incisive lyric interpreters. “There's the holy trinity – Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae – and for me, Carmen was it. Her singing was so truthful and it landed right in my heart,” Eastman says.

Inspired by jazz vocal legend Betty Carter’s Bet-Car Records, Eastman and fellow Bay Area jazz singer Kitty Margolis launched their own record label, Mad-Kat Records in the late 1980s, a time when only a handful of jazz artists were producing themselves. She made an international splash with her 1990 debut “Point of Departure,” featuring trumpet great Tom Harrell. She quickly followed up with 1991’s “Mad About Madeline,” an even more impressive session with pianist Cedar Walton, altoist Phil Woods and special guest Mark Murphy. But it was her third release, 1995’s “Art Attack” that fully unleashed Eastman’s creativity. The album features a bevy of cutting edge artists, including pianist Kenny Barron, Turtle Island String Quartet and Tony Williams, whose dynamic, churning drum work sparked a creative epiphany.

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Album Review
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LA TIMES A consummate, inventive, endlessly entertaining artist at work.

STEREOPHILE MAGAZINE She’s hitting from beginning to end, sizzling and snapping with electricity, sliding across bar lines, scatting choruses, slowing to a whisper, bending melody line to her will. She is IN CHARGE.

LA TIMES A prime example of what jazz singing in the 21st century can be.

JazzTimes Magazine Eastman follows a delightfully twisted path. She's an inveterately unpredictable traveler who never fails to take us to magical places.

CD REVIEW Eastman doesn’t tinker aimlessly, she recon¬structs with purpose. She lays depth charges right from her opening.

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Deb Rasmussen
voice / vocals


Album Discography



Sarah Vaughan
voice / vocals
Sony Holland
voice / vocals
Calabria Foti
voice / vocals
Tierney Sutton
voice / vocals
Jackie Ryan
voice / vocals
Alexis Cole
voice / vocals
Kate McGarry
voice / vocals
Diane Schuur
voice / vocals
Dee Daniels
voice / vocals
Nancy Kelly
voice / vocals
Diane Marino
piano and vocals
Sue Oatts Tucker
voice / vocals
Shaynee Rainbolt
voice / vocals

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