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Take Five With Jessica Medina

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Jessica Medina: Known for her captivating, sultry voice and her exotic interpretation of jazz, Jessica Medina melds culture, beauty and song in stunning harmony. Fluent in three languages, she fearlessly crosses borders with a fresh, seductive flavor that creatively blends Spanish, French, American and Brazilian sounds.

Born in New York City of Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage, Jessica's initial musical education came through her parents, whose own vocal and musical talents fostered her own appreciation for music. With Spanish and English as her native tongues - and New York City as her home - Medina quickly developed her talents alongside a keen interest in culture and languages. The next step for Jessica was a move to Paris, where she spent more than two years performing throughout the city with well-respected musicians and artists. Jessica now lives in New York City and appears regularly in jazz clubs throughout the city.

Her first full-length CD, Azul, releases in May 2007. The album delivers song in four languages and boasts an all-star band including special guest Claudio Roditi.

Jessica was recently asked to be the spotlight artist in the exclusive Hennessy X.O Jazz Smooth and Mellow Asian Tour. Beginning in May 2007, Jessica will perform as the solo vocalist with her group of talented musicians. The ten-day tour will reach Shanghai, Taipei, Kaohsiung and Kuala Lumpur. Jessica's songs will be included in a limited edition compilation album sponsored by Hennessy and Sony/BMG.

For more info please visit: or

Instrument(s): Vocals.

Teachers and/or influences? Teachers: Sheila Jordan, Anthony Branker and Priscilla Owens. Influences: Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McRae, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Celia Cruz, Gal Costa, Chico Buarque.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... growing up my parents played various instruments and sang.

Your sound and approach to music: A multicultural sound, including sounds and lyrics from different countries.

Your teaching approach: Find your uniqueness and start there.

Your dream band: Wow, this is hard, as some of the people are not with us anymore.

Where do I begin? Well, I must say that I have been very luck to have had the honor of working with Claudio Roditi, one of my favorite horn players.

I would also love to work with Michel Camilo and Juan Luis Guerra, both from my mother's native land, The Dominican Republic.

Anecdote from the road: I also study dance and as many of you know the counting is a little different than jazz music performance. So one day during rehearsal I counted off a tune by saying ... 5,6,7,8. Hahahaha! We laughed so hard. Once in awhile I do it jokingly to get my musicians a good laugh.

Favorite venue: The folks at Mannahatta and Bowery Poetry club are always a pleasure to work with.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? "First Song and "Once Upon a Summertime. There is just something magical about those two on the Azul CD; not to mention Claudio's incredibly moving solo on "Once Upon a Summertime.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? The multicultural sides of jazz. I hope to broaden jazz awareness within the Latino communities. Especially with the children. Hoping to expand their interest in America's indigenous music and perhaps inspire future musicians.

Did you know... I speak/sing in over four languages

How do you use the internet to help your career? I use the internet daily, to communicate with family, friends and fans. I have two main websites: or

CDs you are listening to now: Michel Camilo, Rectangulo; Afro Cuban All Stars, The Next Generation; Claudio Roditi, Double Standards; Marc Anthony, Valio la pena.

Desert Island picks: Wow this is tough...

The Best of Carmen McRae; Miles Davis, Kind of Blue; The Best of Fania Allstars.

How would you describe the state of jazz today? Not where it should be...There should be more jazz programs at schools, more jazz radio stations, more contemporary and younger artists, bringing the music back to the popularity it had during the '40-'60s.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? We need to keep playing!!! Contemporary lyrics can be helpful too.

What is in the near future? I have my debut CD Azul out in May 2007. I am so excited.

Additionally, I have been selected as the lucky winner to head the Hennessy XO Asian Jazz Tour. Another first for me, my first tour and my first time to Asia. As Stevie would say, I am "overjoyed.

By Day: I usually work as an Executive Assistant during the day It's perfect because I have enough energy at the end of the day to focus on what I love: singing!


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