Friday, September 16th, 8pmSoapbox Gallery
636 Dean Street
Brooklyn, NY, 11238
Her delightfully casual and welcoming voice, defying gravity in a manner not unlike a legend such as Blossom Dearie
or peer Kat Edmonson
, has the special charm that’s easy on the ears with the potential to stir your heart." —John Ephland
“She’s a wonderful talent. And I think it’s great that she’s doing a recording, putting a CD out there. I think it’s wonderful. ...She has an honest approach. I feel that she has a lot of feeling in what she does. She’s not a show-off; she’s not trying to be anything except who she is. She’s Roberta, and she’s singing Roberta, and it’s beautiful.” —Sheila Jordan
Coming to performing later in life, Chicago-based vocalist/songwriter Roberta Brenza makes the most of this debut recording experience—It's My Turn to Color Now
(released August 19th on Origin Records). She enlists a brilliant team of playmates—producer & drummer Matt Wilson
, pianist Dawn Clement
, bassist Cameron Brown
, saxophonist Stacy Dillard
, along with special guest, legendary vocalist Sheila Jordan
, who made a rare appearance in recording with Roberta on this debut release. Until this session, the only other artist with whom Sheila had made a studio recording in her 70-year career was the great Mark Murphy
. Together this stellar ensemble sculpts an intriguing set of thoughtfully arranged songs such as Watch What Happens" & Bye, Bye Blackbird," jazz standards like Take Five" & Don Cherry's Art Deco," along with two revealing Brenza originals. Having lived in both French and Italian-speaking cultures, she also offers fresh takes on “Les Feuilles Mortes/Autumn Leaves” and “Estate." Channeling the long developing feelings of music she was first exposed to as a child listening to her father's collection, Brenza presents as a full-formed package, revealing new insights from the lyrics as she paints from a vibrant musical palette.
Roberta Brenza: vocals
Stacy Dillard: tenor & soprano saxophone
Dawn Clement: piano
Cameron Brown: bass
Matt Wilson: drums
Sheila Jordan: vocals
In Roberta’s own words
One of the greatest inspirations behind my debut album was and is Sheila Jordan. Within my relatively short history of singing jazz, I had stopped singing for two years. A crash in confidence. Then I sat in on a master class of Sheila’s. She called on a volunteer to sing and so I got up behind the mic again. Sheila got me up.
Gratitude for Sheila’s light and generosity abounds in the jazz community. I have had the tremendous fortune to gain from that profound energy in personal as well as professional ways. That is what the greatest mentors do. They build you up.
When Sheila magnanimously accepted my invitation to join Matt, Dawn, Cameron, Stacy and me on a couple of tunes in the studio, I was of course thrilled and honored. We all were, including our fabulous sound engineer, Mike Marciano of Systems Two. Sheila brought into the studio that zeal and commitment and soul that everyone could feel. And the history.
I chose as one our two duets “Bebop Lives” for many reasons. Sheila had taught me this tune in a workshop as she has for decades taught countless students across the globe.
What is more, as a former executive producer—of pianist Elio Villafranca
’s Grammy-nominated CD, Cinque
, to which I also contributed my voice— I knew the world needed to hear, to have, and to hold a recording of the Queen of Bebop singing these historically poignant lyrics as only she can deliver them.
As our second duet, I chose Don Cherry
’s “Art Deco,” a core part of Sheila’s own repertoire to which, at Don’s request, Sheila wrote the lyrics in tribute to Don, though after his passing. These lyrics describe so beautifully what Sheila has meant to me as a mentor and inspiration. It was pure joy to have the privilege to sing them to Sheila in the studio.
Sheila’s solo on “Bebop Lives”—to be found on my Youtube channel with my four other promotional videos—says it all. I am beyond thankful for the heartfelt musicianship of dear Sheila and of every member of this stellar ensemble. The love of this genre that we all share was palpable at Samurai Hotel Studios.
An immense honor. A dream come true.
Thank you, Sheila!