After enjoying accolades while singing, performing and touring with icons in numerous genres as a support artist, La Tanya Hall re-emerges as a multi-faceted jazz vocalist and interpreter extraordinaire with her first full-length album in a decade.
Though her gorgeous, emotionally intuitive vocals take center stage, the expansive collection is, at heart, a collaborative effort with Unison, a newly formed NYC trio led by Hall’s husband Andy Milne on piano, featuring John Hebert on bass and Clarence Penn on drums. Say Yes was produced and arranged by Milne, a distinct and respected voice at the heart of NYC’s creative jazz scene for over 20 years.
While Say Yes is technically a follow-up to La Tanya’s 2009 recording, It’s About Time, she sees Say Yes as the first project that is a true reflection of her artistic spirit. Fans wondering why it took her so many years to return to the studio can look to her busy schedule touring these past seven years with Steely Dan – and her 10-year career as an instructor, passing along her experience and expertise to the next generation of singers as Associate Professor of Jazz Voice at Oberlin Conservatory and at The New School in NYC.
Over the years, La Tanya’s versatility in a multitude of genres has made her a first-call vocalist for some of music’s most celebrated artists, including Diana Ross, Bobby McFerrin, Harry Belafonte, Michael McDonald, Burt Bacharach, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, Rob Thomas, Patti Labelle, Michael Feinstein and Steve Tyrell. Developing her solo artistry, she has performed in recent years at some of New York’s most renowned venues, including Jazz at Lincoln Center, Birdland, Symphony Space, Iridium, and Feinstein’s/54 Below. In addition, she has appeared as a soloist with the American Composer’s Orchestra, The Colorado Symphony, the Jefferson Symphony and the St. Louis Symphony.
“I have been busy singing with everybody else,” La Tanya says, “and even though my first album received critical acclaim, it featured arrangements that I couldn’t fully immerse myself in vocally and as an artist. So, with Say Yes, I was eager to present material that would support and showcase my disposition and broad range of musical tastes. Working so closely with my husband afforded me a trusting, collaborative dynamic that allowed me to sing as fully and as freely as I could."
Besides her exquisite vocal tone and Milne’s elegant arrangements and piano work, the most remarkable aspect of Say Yes is La Tanya’s unique choices of material – a set list that truly reflects her deep musical curiosity, spanning generations and many genres. She reaches outside the jazz realm with lush re-imaginings of folk-rocker Jonatha Brookes’ “Because I Told You So” (which the singer calls “the most personal song on the album to me”) and Joni Mitchell’s “The Fiddle and the Drum” – a Vietnam era tune whose poetry resonates perfectly in response to today’s intense socio-political climate. Another remarkable theme that La Tanya develops with this recording is the decision to re-interpret classic jazz pieces that originated as instrumentals before lyrics were added later. These include “All You Need To Say,” which first appeared as the instrumental “Never Say Yes” on Cannonball Adderley’s 1961 album with Nancy Wilson; Benny Golson’s “Whisper Not,” whose lyrics were added later by Leonard Feather; “Pannonica,” Thelonious Monk’s tribute to elusive “patron saint of jazz” Pannonica de Koenigswarter, with lyrics added later by Jon Hendricks; another Monk-Hendricks classic, “Well You Needn’t”; and Clare Fischer’s “Pensativa,” whose lyrics were later penned by Norma Winstone.
In addition, La Tanya reaches back to 1944 and revamps Cole Porter’s classic, “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” incorporating a Pablo Neruda poem which adds new life to the already powerful lyrics, to 1942 for a fresh, bourbon-soaked spin on Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz,” and to 1916 for the Raymond Hubbell tune “Poor Butterfly,” – the latter of which is a part of La Tanya’s Sarah Vaughan tribute show.
One Saturday afternoon in April of 1997, nine Atlanta jazz musicians assembled outside a local watering hole, shuffling about, waiting for a rehearsal to begin. The joint was locked, the club owner was late, and we all knew that big bands were dead. When the Tempest Little Big Band finally sat down and began reading the charts, the cats perked up, the club owner got giggly, and the band was on their way to nearly three years of weekly bookings. That Saturday afternoon was Tempest’s first and last rehearsal.
Jazz musicians hate to rehearse. They’re all about improvisation, not only when standing up to solo, but with music and life in general. It’s not so much a relish of potential disaster as it is an addiction to challenge. Tempest incorporates tangible uncertainty into their gigs. Not a club date goes by when Tempest doesn’t play something with the ink still wet: new arrangements by noted local orchestrators. Invariably, they format tunes differently and spontaneously from gig to gig. It’s kind of an unspoken, “Hey, let’s find out in front of lots of people what happens when we try this.” It’s fun.
Tempest Little Big Band a nine-piece big band featuring a vocalist, nurturing and maintaining the spirit and appeal of a quintet. This CD titled, "Round Midnight" was a long time coming: their first recorded live studio album. Nothing here was played more than a handful of times prior to the session. Three arrangements were brand new to the band.
"Round Midnight" is not meant to be a hard-core jazz album. It’s simply music they like— recorded in five hours on one hot Atlanta afternoon—showcasing a snap shot of the 150+ song repertoire now in Tempest’s book. Tempest loves to play the blues. “Captain Cheerio” is one of three sets’-worth of disparate blues tunes we could have chosen here. We enjoy playing black-tie affairs, hence, the more danceable fare of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” “Satin Doll,” and “Sway.” Tempest has a deep, abiding reverence for the jazz classics, so you’ll hear “Shiny Stockings,” “Caravan,” and “Thermo” performed as they were originally intended. We love it all and hope it shows.
20TH LATIN GRAMMY AWARDS - DOUBLE NOMINATION!
We are excited to announce that Otmaro Ruiz | Jimmy Branly | Jimmy Haslip's album titled Elemental has been nominated for two LATIN GRAMMY AWARDS:
BEST JAZZ ALBUM & BEST ARRANGEMENT
(Otmaro Ruiz for "Red Wall")
"I especially loved "Red Wall" with its dark undertones and Yoruban feel"
(Smooth Jazz Magazine - Avzal Ismail)
Click here to listen
“Elemental is a current jazz classic bringing elements of old and new to keep fans on their toes. (...) Elemental is a fusion of the most talented jazz artists of our time. More than that, though, the resulting sound is clearly greater than the sum of it's parts." (Travis Prescott, All About Jazz)
"These guys slap some soul on the sauce." (George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly)
"Superb in every respect, this is a MUST HAVE in your collection" (Avzal Ismail, Smooth Jazz Magazine)
Elemental by Otmaro Ruiz, Jimmy Branly, and Jimmy Haslip is for die hard fans of fusion jazz, an elite circle of jazz connoisseurship. (Hans-Bernd Hülsmann, First View)