She’s been called everything from a “Cult figure” and an “uncompromising artist,” (Earshot Jazz) to “the greatest living jazz singer,” (Herb Ellis). As one of the few improvisers in vocal jazz to master the vocabulary, Nancy King has “indefatigable scat chops and a remarkably elastic range.” (The Oregonian)
Nancy came to the San Francisco jazz scene of the early 1960’s from Springfield, Oregon. It was at the legendary Jazz Workshop that she met Sonny King, her future mate, and joined his band. They headlined Monday nights at the Workshop for two years. Others she worked with in San Francisco included Vince Guaraldi, John Handy, Sonny Donaldson, and Flip Nunez. Another major influence was meeting and studying with Jon Hendricks.
In ‘66 and ‘67, Nancy did the Playboy Club circuit and was a production singer in Las Vegas, then joined C. Smalls and Company, led by Charlie Smalls, who later wrote the music for “The Wiz”.
In the early 1970’s she took a break from touring, settling in Eugene, Oregon to raise her three sons. On weekends she sang in the lounge of the Benson Hotel in Portland with future jazz luminaries Ralph Towner, David Friesen and Tom Grant.
The first recording to feature Nancy King was “First Date”, an outing with saxophonist Steve Wolfe on the Inner City label. Joining them in the studio were Ray Brown, Jack Sheldon, Frank Strazzeri and Nick Ceroli. The record’s release was celebrated at Michael’s Pub in New York City, where the great pianist Bill Evans stopped in to play a few tunes.
Nancy’s collaborations with Glen Moore (bassist for the internationally known ensemble “Oregon”) include performances at NYC’s Town Hall, the Montreal Jazz Festival and several European festivals. Together as “King and Moore” they have recorded three albums on the Justice label beginning with “Impending Bloom” in 1991. That cd and the following release, “Potato Radio”, earned five star reviews from Downbeat Magazine. “Cliff Dance” was released in 1994.
Nancy and Steve ChristoffersonMeanwhile, Nancy had been performing locally and along the West Coast with pianist/composer Steve Christofferson since 1978. In 1993 they released a duo album “Perennial”, featuring guest appearances by Leroy Vinnegar, David Frishberg and Ralph Towner. During the mid-90’s Nancy and Steve were on the faculties of the Stanford University Jazz Workshop, Bud Shank’s Centrum Jazz Workshop and Jazz Camp West, and performed at festivals in France, the U.S., Israel and Canada. In 1997 Mons Records released “Straight Into Your Heart”, recorded in Holland and featuring Nancy and Steve with the fifty-one piece Metropole Orchestra.