June 17, 2008

Jazz Vocalists Vol 1 - SUSAN KREBS

There’s a growing buzz about vocalist Susan Krebs’ just released studio recording of Jazz Aviary - a celebration of birds and of the universal music that we share. Conceived and performed by Suze in collaboration with the Soaring Sextet, some of L.A.’s finest musicians, Jazz Aviary is the culmination of three years of various concert incarnations.

“Susan Krebs has nothing but fondness for our feathered friends - and expresses her joyous affection magnificently throughout this fascinating concept project... irresistible offerings from a formidable jazz artist.” (AMG)

“Krebs’ interpretive passion, intelligence and love for the project can be heard throughout.” (Jazz Improv/Bob Gish)

“Jazz Aviary is a fascinating musical presentation.” (LA Times/Don Heckman)

“One of the most refreshing, interesting, stimulating shows I’ve ever attended... Krebs and her amazing musicians created something of singular beauty.” (LA Jazz Scene)

Suze explains her long-time fascination with birds: “I remember as a kid, lying stretched out in a hammock between two grand sycamores, watching the birds, listening to the birds - digging the birds! Birds and humans have shared this planet for many millennia. Our impulse to sing and our desire to fly reflect this deep and ancient connection with the avian tribe. The eloquent biologist, E.O. Wilson, writes that the preservation of the world lies in understanding and appreciating the wonder and awe that nature arouses. With Jazz Aviary - a concert of musical ornithology, spoken word and birdsong - I want to express the wonder and awe specifically that birds arouse.”

Born and raised in Baltimore, Suze grew up in a home filled with the sounds of Bach, Beethoven, Gilbert & Sullivan, Broadway musicals and the blues of Bessie, Billie and Ella. Graduating from Hollins College with a BA in Drama & Dance, Susan went on to spend her twenties in New York City – studying acting with the extraordinary Uta Hagen, appearing in various Off-Broadway plays and musicals, TV commercials, and performing with the improvisational theater company, War Babies. The New York clubs offered her a jazz education, presenting the likes of Duke Ellington, Sheila Jordan, Jackie & Roy, Alberta Hunter, the Mel Lewis/Thad Jones Big Band, Carmen McRae.

In 1976, Suze and her fellow War Babies re-located to Los Angeles for a TV series. She chose to remain in L.A. and make it her new home – delighted that she could garden and hike – and that there were greater work opportunities. Over the years, Suze has appeared in dozens of TV shows (Numbers, The West Wing, ER), Films (Million Dollar Baby, 28 Days), Animation, TV & Radio commercials, and Theater, including her own solo musical revue, Lunar, the all-women’s improvisational company, The Wims, and the contemporary opera, A String of Pearls, both in L.A. and at Carnegie Hall.
Throughout Suze’s career as an actor and improviser, she was also occasionally performing as a vocalist, and studied for several years with the fine jazz singer and teacher, Sue Raney. – Then, in 1995, seeking clarity and artistic direction during a four month “middle years” retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Suze’s sense of herself as a “jazz gardener” came into being - which she explains as “being about the art of becoming - whether working with plants or music or with oneself - to dig down, to cultivate, to encourage growth, to thrive and flourish, and eventually to let go and begin the cycle anew.” And so, she returned to L.A. with the intent of devoting herself to the art of jazz singing both as a student and as a performer in order to tell her tale through song. She now performs regularly throughout Southern California.

“A talented singer with wit and energy...” (LA Times)

“For singer-actress Susan Krebs and her quartet of fine musicians, their goal has been simple: to be all-out entertaining whenever and wherever their gigs take them...” (LA Jazz Scene)

Her debut album was Jazz Gardener (Sea Breeze 1999)

“Categorizing Krebs’ voice is not easy; it is filled with emotion ranging from a deep, throaty hue to a girlish, higher-pitched tone. Krebs’ vocals swoop, drop behind the beat, and generally stay just a little off center... After she delivers a song, Krebs leaves nothing on the table.” (AMG)

Then came What Am I Here For? (GreenGig Music 2002).

“Krebs’ style suggests the influence of singers like Sheila Jordan, with a behind the beat approach that creates a sense of drama. As she has her way with each lyric, her slippery phrasing (check out “Out of This World’) creates an engaging presence. Further, there is a deep soulful emotionalism and Blues inflection that suits her alto range quite well. For example, Krebs is at her most distinctive on passionate, melancholy tracks like ‘Nature Boy’ and ‘Good Morning Heartache’. She also demonstrates her keen handling of lyrics on tracks like the ubiquitous ‘The Way You Look Tonight’. (Cadence)

Both recordings were created by Suze and her group of superb L.A. based musicians, including her longtime drummer/producer, Jerry Kalaf, and the saxophonist extraordinaire, Gary Foster.
Suze’s latest project is Jazz Aviary (GreenGig Music 2007) – veritable musical ornithology. A concert, conceived and performed by Suze in collaboration with the Soaring Sextet, Musical Direction by Rich Eames and Co-Produced with Jerry Kalaf, it is now a unique and beautiful recording.

No comments: