Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Tianna Hall: Sid, Barney, Duke & Billy

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz vocalist Tianna Hall calls Houston, TX home. At first blush, one might consider Houston a hub for the oil industry, barbecue, and country music, but not one for jazz. However, Houston has a long history with the music dating to the age of the territory bands and the "Chitlin' Circuit" existing between the late '20s and early '50s, a period ruled by the infamous impresario Don Robey.

The modern Houston jazz scene is dominated by a more benign but no less talented "mafia" that includes Hall's fellow vocalists Bryan Anthony, Yvonne Washington, Melissa Darragh, Jacqui Sutton and Danielle Reich; saxophonists Alisha Pattillo, Larry Slezak and Woody Witt; pianist Gary Norian; multi- instrumentalist Henry Darragh; guitarist Paul Chester and trumpeter Carol Morgan (since transplanted to New York City). That is a critical mass of talent to be located in such a humid wonder good things grow there.

Hall has just released her fourth recording, Two For the Road (Self Produced, 2012) and is expecting her second child with husband, software engineer Matthew Hitchens. She remains busy in the Houston area, performing in a variety of venues'

All About Jazz: Houston is a rich incubator of musical talent, from Rodney Crowell to Wilton Felder and Billy Gibbons to Beyonce Knowles. What music did you listen to growing up and who do you charge as your greatest inspirations once you began singing jazz?

Tianna Hall: Growing up, I was a self-confessed nerd. My first two CD purchases were together: a compilation of Luciano Pavarotti performances and the original broadway cast of The Who's Tommy (RCA, 1993). I loved musical theater and opera and poured over both genres nearly obsessively. I was also exposed a great deal to big band era music and the crooners of the Frank Sinatra, age thanks to my grandparents. I think my greatest influences come not from specific artists but from these genres and it wasn't until I started studying jazz vocal greats like Shirley Horn, Jimmy Scott, Nancy Wilson, Ella Mae Morse and others, that I began to develop a jazz vocal style of my own.

AAJ: Your community of jazz musicians in Houston seem a tight-knit bunch. Besides the obvious, how do you support one another in what has to be a challenging market in which to work?

TH: We are blessed to have an amazing online social network and jazz community through I happen to also help run the site along with fellow jazzers Andrew Lienhard and Henry Darragh, and our friend and jazz photo journalist Pin Lim. It allows us to help promote each others shows, support live jazz venues and interact socially online. I don't know how I would have ever gotten so involved in the community here in Houston without it.

AAJ: Your recordings, including Two for the Road, focus a great deal on standards from the Great American Songbook. What things do you consider when selecting a standard to perform or record? What composers of the American Songbook speak to you loudest?

TH: I nearly always center the selections around a special ballad that rips my heart out. They are most definitely my favorite songs to sing. The rest of the tunes always seem to fall into place based on what I've been performing on the bandstand night to night. I'd have to say that the composers that speak to me the most would be tough to narrow down to one: Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn compositions have so much meat, Henry Mancini's are brilliant but Cole Porter seems to dominate more than any other composer on my four records. His lyrics are witty and/or heart wrenching and the melodies are capable of being both haunting and strange and/or uplifting and light. I think he was probably quite the odd duck and I have a feeling we would have been kindred spirits.

AAJ: On Two for the Road, you go beyond the "standard" standards, addressing more recent and disparate compositions. Radiohead's "Creep," Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" and 10cc's "I'm Not In Love" are not jazz business-as-usual. Do your regularly incorporate newer, non-jazz songs in your recitals and how do you choose them?

TH: With the first two selections, I finally felt brave enough to give a musical nod to some of the popular music from my high school/middle school days. There was very little on the radio or of the music my friends were listening to that I had even a remote interest in. These were two songs that I always found very interesting and the 10cc song was a suggestion from my bassist on this album, Agustin Bernal. He had a great concept for it and I immediately loved it.


comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Bailey's Bundles
CD/LP/Track Review
Catching Up With
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Hit Me with a Hot Note

Hit Me with a Hot Note

Self Produced

Two for the Road

Two for the Road

Self Produced

Two for the Road

Two for the Road

Self Produced

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go

Blue Bamboo Music


Related Articles

Read Jay Clayton’s ScatLab—A Vocal Jazz Workout Catching Up With
Jay Clayton’s ScatLab—A Vocal Jazz Workout
by Suzanne Lorge
Published: December 4, 2018
Read Gary Urwin: Inside the Mind of an Arranger Catching Up With
Gary Urwin: Inside the Mind of an Arranger
by Rob Wood
Published: November 18, 2018
Read Devon Allman: Chipotle Blues Catching Up With
Devon Allman: Chipotle Blues
by Scott Mitchell
Published: November 4, 2018
Read Bobby Broom: Classic Compositions from Yesterday to Today Catching Up With
Bobby Broom: Classic Compositions from Yesterday to Today
by Corey Hall
Published: October 26, 2018
Read Stefon Harris: The Tradition of Jazz Catching Up With
Stefon Harris: The Tradition of Jazz
by Kevin Press
Published: October 16, 2018
Read Mike Stern: Living through a Jazz Clinic Catching Up With
Mike Stern: Living through a Jazz Clinic
by Rob Wood
Published: October 5, 2018
Read "Mike Stern: Living through a Jazz Clinic" Catching Up With Mike Stern: Living through a Jazz Clinic
by Rob Wood
Published: October 5, 2018
Read "Erik Friedlander: Reversing Abstraction" Catching Up With Erik Friedlander: Reversing Abstraction
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: July 31, 2018
Read "Lauren Lee: On Being Uncool" Catching Up With Lauren Lee: On Being Uncool
by Suzanne Lorge
Published: May 10, 2018
Read "Taz Modi: Submotion Orchestra is a unique blend" Catching Up With Taz Modi: Submotion Orchestra is a unique blend
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 14, 2018
Read "Lucky Bamba: From Noflag to Solo Career" Catching Up With Lucky Bamba: From Noflag to Solo Career
by Jim Olin
Published: January 28, 2018
Read "Frank Woeste: Reversing Ravel" Catching Up With Frank Woeste: Reversing Ravel
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: February 7, 2018