October 12, 2008

Jazz Vocalist "PAMELA LUSS"

It must be daunting to be a vocalist and have to sing a standard thrice-familiar that was recorded by everyone under the sun and still
make it your own. But every once in a proverbial blue moon a singer
appears on the scene who meets the challenge head-on, singing
songs, telling their stories without fear of being derivative or
redundant and not straining to be different for difference's sake. Such
a singer is Pamela Luss.

Pamela Luss, a natural vocalist, had a surprisingly rich voice even as a
child. Her father, an accomplished pianist, accompanied Pamela while
she spent hours singing the songs of Sinatra, Streisand, Sarah
Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and the Beatles. Pamela's exceptional pitch
was apparent early on and remains strong today as one of the
identifying features of a uniquely smooth voice with unusual fullness
and purity of tone.

When the time was right, Pamela began many years of private vocal
training. Her first coach was recommended by the Diller-Quaile School
of Music in New York City, after which she studied music at New York
University. After college, Pamela pursued her singing while working in
recruiting and human resources. For the past three years, she has
been working full-time as a vocalist.
Pamela's first major break as a vocalist occurred during one of her
annual concerts at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall where she was
heard by the well-known saxophonist Vincent Herring. He offered to
produce her first album, “There's Something About You I Don't Know,”
which features an all-star line-up, including Mulgrew Miller, Tom
Harrell, Jeremy Pelt, Steve Turre, Russell Malone, Greg Hutchinson,
and Richie Goods. The album was released by Savant/ HighNote
Records to unanimously enthusiastic reviews in February of 2006.

In December 2006, Pamela recorded her second album, “Your Eyes,”
which was produced by Todd Barkan (of Jazz at Lincoln Center).
Released in March 2007, the album features the legendary tenor
saxophonist Houston Person. “Your Eyes” has also been receiving an
excellent reaction all over the world; it immediately made it to number
three out of one hundred on Amazon.com's vocal jazz Bestselling new
& future releases, and also reached number eight in France on the list
of the top-ten best selling Jazz albums on iTunes.

Of “Your Eyes,” Christopher Loudon of JazzTimes wrote, "There's a
warmth and soft delicacy that advances Luss from the middle of the
contemporary jazz-cabaret vocal pack, placing her squarely behind
front runner Jane Monheit." He also described her interpretation of
'How Do You Keep The Music Playing?' as quite possibly the finest-todate.
Additionally, Scott Yanow of All Music Guide commented, "Ms.
Luss shows that she is a superior jazz singer, whether being sensual on
‘Baby Don't You Quit Now,’ finding surprising life in a faster-than-usual
‘Over the Rainbow,’ or swinging on ‘Our Day Will Come.’”

Pamela has enjoyed long-running gigs at several prominent New York
venues, including Mannahatta and The Bruno Jamais Restaurant Club.
She has also performed at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola (as part of the Diet
Coke Women's Jazz Festival), Sweet Rhythm, Estia Cantina (in The
Hamptons), amongst other clubs throughout NYC. She also performs
at private functions, most notably at a premiere party thrown by the
actor and filmmaker Matthew Modine.

In the Fall and Winter of 2007-2008 Pamela made many exciting
appearances, beginning on Labor Day, when she flew to Las Vegas to
perform on live television on the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy
Telethon (a clip that's currently on youtube.com, where it has so far
attracted over 2,500 viewings). Later that month, she made her first
appearance at the prestigious Feinstein's at the Regency, and
completely sold out the room, filling it to capacity. In early October
and March, Pamela did two well-attended gigs at Enzo's at the Jolly
Madison Hotel, and also In October, she appeared at a major all-star
benefit produced by the Jazz Foundation of America. That Fall, Pamela
sang at both the first ever Jazz Improv Live Convention as well as the
long-running Mabel Mercer Foundation Cabaret Convention at Jazz At
Lincoln Center's Rose Hall. In May 2008, she made her debut at the
legendary Birdland in Times Square, completely filling the largecapacity

Pamela Luss is a vocal star on the ascendant. As Your Eyes, garners
press and airplay, she will no doubt take her place in the elite company
of today's great song stylists. In the words of Joe Knipes in his review
(for Jazz Improv's NY Guide) of a live performance, Pamela Luss will
surely wow listeners wherever she goes!

NOTE FROM BIGTRIGGER; I had the pleasure of witnessing first hand this marvelous singer performing at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in New York City on September 22, 2008. The show was phenomenal. If Pamela Luss performs anywhere near you, make it a point to BE THERE!

October 02, 2008


Ever since a precocious four year old asked a surprised Mother about the content of Spirit and Soul – querying an answer to the age-old theological and philosophical question of “who are we?,” it’s been on. On in the sense that no subjects are barred and the World is open for observation, inquisition and clarification – a primary aspect of her scribe and words spoken.

Pamela Kelly Phillips, better known in the poetry world as SoVerbose, was born and raised by Southern parents who later migrated to the working class environment of the Midwest (Cincinnati, Ohio) Pam, with a vivid imagination and a penchant for expression, engaged in a persistent struggle of where to place the academics and creativity – sometimes one at odds with the other. Her parents, quite pragmatic when it came to priorities for their Daughter and much older Son, opted that she would pursue those things that would get her a job and reinforced that aspect over and over.

Nonetheless, she wrote her first piece, a 120 page “book” Silver Moon at the age of nine, meticulously typing each word as an entire summertime labor of love. In the turmoil of the Civil Rights era she further committed those thoughts to paper, often reflecting on how it felt to be between a rock and a hard place – the simplicity of a grounded home existence and the world that just might open to her if she continued to work and “didn’t let herself get pregnant and ruin her life.” Punished for bad grades and under achievement by a Mom who “took no prisoners,” she had no choice but to “do good” for which she is now grateful.

And, as the years went by she did her thing, successfully, with Honors, at the University of Cincinnati. She accomplished post-graduate work at the university’s law school with substantial work towards a Juris Doctor degree until she shifted gears, got married and traveled with her military husband -- now estranged, and two children – now grown, for the next fifteen years. Through these years the writing and serious photography were a constant, often intermingled, sustaining force of life and the emphasis on the story poems occurred at a transitional point in her life. As a result of prolific expression, Guild Press in Robbinsdale, MN has published many of her works, most notably featuring her in the anthology Absorbing Destruction and in her own chapbook Blue Note.

The poetry reflects the everyday life of everyday people. A glance out the corner of an eye, a realization to which others seem impervious, a lesson learned or a memory held dear. Love affects her intensely, coming hard and self-absorptive, so her perspectives of love often reflect from the pen as a constant struggle between love and pain, with a focus on the retainer of emotions left behind. She cannot write poetry without the rhyme so there is a natural flow akin to the music that has always accompanied her in life. She jokes and says if she had been born twenty years later she would have been a rapper. Perhaps; but there isn’t a genre she doesn’t appreciate but relishes Jazz – Acid (Chill), Smooth and “Real”, Rock, and R&B – Classic and Nu Soul.

Pam has worked for the Federal government for close to twenty years in the areas of Public Affairs and Outreach, primarily in a management capacity. Residing (or confined as a state of mind) in one of those DC Metro bedroom communities to support her “day job” Pam considers her true home Atlanta, where the bulk of her extended family now resides, having relocated from the original family homestead in nearby Covington. Pam hopes to complete the circle and migrate Home to Georgia sometime in the near future.

In addition to a pursuit of where her poetry might take her, Pam hopes to mesh her love for distant travel with photographic skills as a travel journalist. Recent travels to Europe, China and Asia, and Tanzania are efforts to achieve this end.


Wes Montgomery was born March 6, 1925 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He came from a musical family; his brothers, Monk (string bass and electric bass) and Buddy (vibraphone and piano), were jazz performers. Although he was not skilled at reading music, he could learn complex melodies and riffs by ear. Montgomery started learning guitar at the age of 19, listening to and learning recordings of his idol, the guitarist Charlie Christian. He was known for his ability to play Christian solos note for note and was hired by Lionel Hampton for this ability.

Montgomery is often considered the greatest of modern jazz guitarists. Following the early work of swing/pre-bop guitarist Charlie Christian and gypsy-jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, Wes arguably put guitar on the map as a bebop or post-bop instrument. Although Johnny Smith was the guitarist in the original New York Bebop scene, and both Tal Farlow and Jimmy Raney made significant contributions in the 1950's to bebop guitar, each of these men curtailed their own output in the 1960s, creating a vacuum that Montgomery naturally filled with virtuostic playing. While many Jazz players are regarded as virtuosos, Montgomery was unique in his wide influence on other virtuosos who followed him, and in the respect he earned from his contemporaries. To many, Montgomery's playing defines jazz guitar and the sound that many try to emulate.

Montgomery toured with Lionel Hampton early in his career, however the combined stress of touring and being away from family brought him back home to Indianapolis. To support his family of eight, Montgomery worked in a factory from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm, then performed in local clubs from 9:00 pm to 2:00 am. Cannonball Adderley heard Montgomery in an Indianapolis club and was floored. The next morning, he called record producer Orrin Keepnews, who signed Montgomery to a recording contract with Riverside Records. Adderly later recorded with Montgomery on his Poll winners album. Montgomery recorded with his brothers and various other group members, including the Wynton Kelly Trio which previously backed up Miles Davis.

John Coltrane asked Montgomery to join his band after a jam session, but Montgomery continued to lead his own band. Boss Guitar seems to refer to his status as a guitar-playing bandleader. He also made contributions to recordings by Jimmy Smith. Jazz purists relish Montgomery's recordings up through 1965, and sometimes complain that he abandoned hard-bop for pop jazz towards the end of his career, although it is arguable that he gained a wider audience for his earlier work with his soft jazz from 1965-1968. During this late period he would occasionally turn out original material alongside jazzy orchestral arrangements of pop songs. In sum, this late period earned him considerable wealth and created a platform for a new audience to hear his earlier recordings.

Wes Montgomery died of a heart attack on June 15, 1968 in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

While often admired, guitarists seldom stepped to the forefront during most of the '50s. The real innovators, after all, were the saxophonists and trumpeters, and a guitarist, like a vibraphonist, was optional. With his use of octaves and forceful soloing in the late '50s, Wes Montgomery asserted that the guitarist was fully capable of fronting his own group and, like the tenors, offer cutting edge music. The Best of Wes Montgomery draws from the guitarist's work between 1959 and 1964 for Riverside, a body of work that remains fresh and exhilarating. It isn't so much the material he chooses that captures one's attention, though certainly an original like "Four on Six" draws the listener in. Instead, it's Montgomery's unique use of octaves, ability to solo with chords, and his distinctive method of playing single-note solos. On Victor Young's "Delilah," for instance, he offers several bars of his trademark octave work at the beginning, but he refuses to stick with one approach. After a lengthy solo by vibraphonist Milt Jackson, he re-enters the fray with a chunky series of chords and finally, after another solo from pianist Wynton Kelly, Montgomery cuts loose on a bright, inspired single-note solo that'll make the listener sit up straight. As The Best of Wes Montgomery shows, it's a task he was able to pull off again and again, making this a fine introduction for new fans

Personnel include: Wes Montgomery (guitar); Kenny Burrell (guitar); Johnny Griffin (tenor saxophone); George Shearing, Tommy Flanagan, Victor Feldman, Wynton Kelly (piano); Milt Jackson, Buddy Montgomery (vibraphone); Milt Hinton, Monk Montgomery, Percy Heath, Ron Carter (bass instrument); Albert "Tootie" Heath, Philly Joe Jones (drums); Louis Hayes (bass drum)