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Susan Tobocman

Singer/composer/lyricist/producer/arranger Susan Tobocman has been making a name for herself among audiences and musicians alike on both the New York city and Detroit jazz scenes for a number of years. Whether leading her own gigs at Zinc Bar (where she was the original artist-in-residence), Cornelia Street Cafe, Flatiron Room, Fine & Rare, Symphony Space, Highline Ballroom, Smalls, The Bitter End, Birdland, Cliff Bell's, The Blue Llama, Steinway Jazz Gallery, Smoke, 55 Bar, or Cleopatra's Needle (among others) — or as the guest of such luminaries as Barry Harris, Al Foster, or the late Doc Cheatham — Susan is equally comfortable working as a leader and/or sideman.

Susan’s extensive repertoire of standards — from the familiar to the obscure — is distinctly enhanced by her inventive arrangements In addition to her original compositions, some of which are strictly instrumental. Among her influences, the Detroit-born singer cites Shirley Horn, Carmen McRae, Joao Gilberto, Dena DeRose, Johnny Mandel, and Andy Bey. Not only is Tobocman the first-prize recipient of the prestigious National Scholastic Writing Award For Poetry, she has also received the ASCAPLUS composer grant for the past fifteen consecutive years. Susan collaborates as both composer and lyricist with several of New York’s finest jazz musicians, including guitarists Elliott Randall and Pete McCann, pianists Henry Hey and David Hazeltine, trumpeter Jim Rotondi, and trombonist Steve Davis. Her work is signed to renowned jazz publisher/Grammy-winner Don Sickler; Susan has also written for and been recorded by Denise Donatelli, Norman Simmons, Allan Harris, and Rodgers Grant, among others.

Susan’s professional experience includes numerous European tours as featured artist, several Off-Broadway musicals, a varied array of national television and radio jingles, touring as keyboardist and vocalist with Tom Tom Club (Talking Heads sans David Byrne), and appearing on ‘Late Night with David Letterman.’ In addition to session work for the MCA and Atlantic record labels - as well as singing background vocals for Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Wailers, Richie Havens, and Garland Jeffries (and more) - Susan is currently featured on four European and three Japanese CDs, as well as her own releases entitled "Watercolor Dream" (first picked up by Mike Longo’s Consolidated Artists label), "Live In Detroit With The Cliff Monear Trio," "Love From Detroit with the Cliff Monear Trio," and her newest recording, "Touch & Go." Susan was also chosen as a featured artist on the Japanese CD compilation "Jazz Bar" and is currently a signed recording artist on the eponymous DISK UNION label. A re-release of "Watercolor Dream" is currently available in Japan on the same label, along with "Live In Detroit," plus "Love From Detroit" was just released worldwide this past April. Her newest recording project entitled "Touch & Go" (a unique musical departure from her previous offerings) will be available July 31st, 2020.

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"A superb record from a singer, composer, lyricist, and arranger who deserves a wider audience. Tobocman's originals are especially notable." — Mark Styrker, Jazz From Detroit

"There it is, embedded in Mark Stryker’s illuminating liner notes to Susan Tobocman’s heartfelt, swinging, bossa- tinged latest album Touch & Go. In three words, the veteran Detroit bred, NYC based jazz vocalist and songwriter and international touring artist tells us everything we need to know to understand her eclectic approach to composing, song selection, tempo variation and spirited phrasing: 'I’m a storyteller.' Having won the prestigious National Scholastic Writing Award for Poetry at 17, this passion for engaging narratives has been part of her life long before she became a professional singer. When the 12-track collection launches with a warmly inviting, brisk romp through Irving Berlin’s 'What’ll I Do,' it seems to set the stage for a high end set of standards showcasing her sultriness, wit and breezy interaction with a batch of top flight NYC musicians – including longtime bandmate Pete McCann (guitar), Henry Hey (pianist) and, adding sensual textures throughout, cellist Dave Eggar. Yet what unfolds from there is a refreshing multi-faceted journey into Tobocman’s expansive artistry. Yes, she is aces finding multi-hued ways to spin Great American Songbook classics ('The Man I Love') and rock era gems – including a graceful female centered reworking of 'Wichita Lineman'), a peppy strut through the James Bond theme 'You Only Live Twice' and delicate waltz and rock-edged ballad versions of The Beatles’ 'Help!' It says a lot about her ability to seamlessly weave thoughtful poetic lyrics and compelling melodies that her three original vocals not only stand confidently among the legendary tunes, but also make you wonder if these were just old obscurities from long ago that we somehow missed. Tobocman also takes what amounts to as an extraordinary step for a singer of her formidable talents by including two original instrumentals for her ensemble to let loose on – the dreamy and whimsical 'Leaves of Absence' (featuring Joel Frahm’s inspired soprano soling) and the jaunty, optimistic title track. After two live albums documenting her work in Detroit with the Cliff Monear Trio, Touch & Go marks an auspicious glimpse into Tobocman’s exciting future." — Jonathan Widran, The JW Vibe

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Andy Bey
Johnny Mandel
Carmen McRae
voice / vocals
Sarah Vaughan
voice / vocals
Dena DeRose
voice / vocals
Sinne Eeg
voice / vocals


Concert Schedule

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Touch & Go

Soliterra Records



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