The "nu-vintage" jazz singer who is reinventing classic big band/lounge jazz for the 21st Century
TOP NEWS: August 2017: Release of new CD "New Vintage" and audiophile vinyl best-of LP "Top Shelf!" Plus Laura's NYC debut Aug. 24 at the Metropolitan Room. See www.lauraainsworth.com for details.
"You can keep all those pop divas, the only one for me is Laura Ainsworth..." - Eric Harabadian, Jazz Inside magazine
Granddaughter of a 1920's female jazz pianist and daughter of
legendary big band saxophonist Billy Ainsworth, who was playing for Tommy Dorsey at 17, Laura Ainsworth has classic supper club jazz in her DNA. The Dallas-based singer's pure, rich tone and nearly three-octave range (one critic gushed that she is as "sweet-voiced as a meadowlark crossed with a hummingbird") has attracted some of the top players in the Southwest to her side, including 2011 "Dallas Jazz Musician of the Year" Brian Piper. She calls her style "nu-vintage," because it combines modern jazz elements and her contemporary outlook and sense of humor with the elegant style of the great big band and supper club performers of the '40s and '50s that she grew up hearing. One jazz radio host said she is reminiscent of the great Verve and Capitol albums of the '50s, only uniquely today.
Her debut CD, "Keep It To Yourself," featuring the Brian Piper Trio
and several great guest musicians, spans the decades, from fresh
twists on standards like "Skylark" and "Love For Sale" to forgotten
gems from the 1920's-'50s, to contemporary tracks, like the sexy but
hilarious title song. “Gifted with a sultry, swoon-inducing croon…The whole album is among the year's most consistently engaging jazz releases, performed with class and heartfelt passion.” – AllAboutJazz.com
Laura's second album, "Necessary Evil," ups the ante with a full big band composed of 13 of the greatest horn players in Texas on the title track and the brand new big band classic, "Last Train to Mercerville," a tribute to her favorite lyricist that cleverly weaves references to nearly three dozen Johnny Mercer classics into the lyrics and arrangement. This album has a theme, reflected in the packaging that's styled after film noir posters and pulp detective novels. Laura offers up love songs with dark or unusual twist: lost love, unrequited love, desperate love, love gone wrong and just-plain-fed-up love. Featuring such jazz radio favorite cuts as "The Gentleman is a Dope," "My Foolish Heart" and "Just Give Me A Man." At the end, we learn that the only place you can count on for pure, eternal romance is the jukebox ("I'd Give A Dollar For A Dime") filled with great old songs ("Last Train to Mercerville").
"My goodness, it is brilliant." - Koop Kooper, host, "Cocktail Nation"
"A smart and brilliant contribution to the world jazz scene; it is a real, passionate and lovely tribute to the composers and singers that some decades ago released these standards; it is a tribute to some key moments in the history of jazz.” – Oscar Montagut, TheWorldMusicReport.com
On the strength of "Necessary Evil," Laura performed in Dubai and India, where she shot a video of the title tune. Summer of 2017 is shaping up to be another leap forward, with three simultaneous releases:
"New Vintage," her eagerly-awaited third album. Advance reviews have called it "sublime," "a perfect album" and "her breakthrough."
"Top Shelf," an audiophile 180-gram virgin vinyl LP of 10 of choice tracks from her first three CDs.
"This is Vintage Now, Vol. 2," a compilation of leading artists in the growing vintage music genre, spotlighting Laura's "Last Train to Mercerville" alongside a rare cut by jazz vocal legend, Sue Raney.
On August 24, Laura will celebrate those releases by making her NYC debut at the Metropolitan Room, with special guest, partner and Dallas Jazz Musician of the Year, Brian Piper. Visit www.lauraainsworth.com for info and link to the ticket site.
My Jazz Story
Published on: 2017-07-29
I love jazz because...it's in my blood! My late father, Billy Ainsworth, was a musical prodigy who dropped out of school at 17 after he stunned the seasoned musicians of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with an in-off-the-street audition. He was on the band bus the next day as Dorsey's alto sax and clarinet player, and never looked back. He played with great bandleaders such as Freddie Martin, Tex Beneke and Ray McKinley, some before he was out of his teens (they had to lie about his age to get him into nightclubs). Many older musicians have told me he was the greatest alto sax player they ever worked with. He was equally great on clarinet and was clarinetist and harmony singer for cocktail jazz pioneers, the Ernie Felice Quartet.
He eventually left the road and settled down, and that's when I came in. By that time, he was, by day, vocal group session leader/player/arranger for classic jingles and commercial music produced in Dallas. At night, he played in society bands, jazz combos and elegant showrooms. Tuesdays were slow in the showrooms, so band members' families got in free, and my mom took me to see him backing such legends as Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Steve and Eydie, and a very old Ella Fitzgerald. Between that, hearing his record collection, growing up around the legendary musicians and singers who were like aunts and uncles to me, and just listening to him practice around the house, filling the neighborhood with incredible jazz sax riffs, I couldn't help becoming that weird kid who was listening to Peggy Lee, Ella and Manhattan Transfer when my classmates were listening to rock, country and soul.
Even though he died before I ever sang professionally, he remains my inspiration and all my CDs are dedicated to him. I like to think that he'd like my music, since it's built on the foundation he handed down to me.