Lauren Kinhan Photo Illustration

biography

When legendary Phil Ramone discovered and signed Lauren at a Bitter End performance in NYC in 1997, people began to really take notice of her fiercely creative voice and original music. With influences steeped in jazz, followed closely by her love of the great singer/songwriters, she has morphed a style that borrows from both disciplines while moving the original song forward in new and unexpected ways. Any way you look at it, she’s a jazz vocalist with a broad imagination and an appetite for mixing things up. Phil called her a true songstress.

Many agree that veteran vocalist and composer Lauren Kinhan is at the peak of her form as shown on her latest project, Circle in a Square. Jazz Journal called it “a vocal tour de force,” and the Midwest Record said, “this set sounds familiar but like nothing you’ve heard before… giving us a nu kind of jazz thrush without the tortured artist effect.” Jazz Times simply said, “Lauren has never shone brighter.” Partnered with the great engineer and producer Elliot Scheiner and seed money from a successful Kickstarter campaign, she has unleashed 12 exquisitely crafted songs that push boundaries and buttons. Written primarily through the jazz lens, Lauren set the songs on a traditional jazz trio and punctuated it throughout with many special guest performances from Randy Brecker, Romero Lubambo Donny McAslin, Chuck Loeb, Joel Frahm, and Gary Versace. “These twisting, unpredictable tunes seem to offer up more on each repeat listen,” said Jazz Journal, “with Kinhan’s supple voice running at full pelt through a broad musical palette. Circle in a Square was released January 7, 2014. “It simply does not get much better than this. 5 Stars!” shouts Bop-N-Jazz.

Christopher Loudon of Jazz Times wrote about Lauren’s acclaimed 2010 release Avalon, “Sweet surprises lurk around every corner shaping a pastiche that is hip, intelligent and vibrant.” Lauren describes it as her “getting back on her bike CD.” “Parenthood changes everything, from the way you look at life, at yourself and at your personal goals and limits,” says Lauren. Avalon was made over an 8 year time span, the first tracking date occurred when she was newly pregnant and then put aside for future reference. “Dory and a Single Oar” was an important outgrowth of that tracking session, cementing a new approach to melding jazz and singer/songwriter sensibilities in her writing process. While the CD meanders a bit more broadly than Circle in a Square, all signs pointed to her being on the right path. Jewels like “Here is my Avalon,” string hued “Here After,” and “There Alone Go I” are some of the standouts. Jazziz publisher Michael Fagien said “I can’t stop listening to it. She mines deep reservoirs of emotion and experience throughout;” so much so he also included “Here After” on the Jazziz Spring Sampler in 2010.

Since 1992, Lauren has been a member of the internationally acclaimed New York Voices; a career that has taken her all over the world and allowed her to work with some of music’s gems like Nancy Wilson, George Benson, Bobby McFerrin, Paquito D’Rivera, Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, Ivan Lins and The Manhattan Transfer.  NYV celebrated their 25th Anniversary in 2013 with two new projects, New York Voices Live with the WDR Big Band (CD) and their much anticipated Holiday CD, Let it Snow.  Their ever growing list of programs keep them busy with world class symphonies and big bands and their successful educational division has grown from offering Master Classes and Workshops all over the world to producing the annual New York Voices Vocal Jazz Camp which attracts students of all ages and phases of life from all over the world, currently in partnership with Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

New York Voices participated on one Grammy winning project and one Latin Grammy winning project with their featured work on the Count Basie Orchestra’s Live at the Machester Craftsman Guild in 1997 and on Paquito D’Rivera’s Brazilian Dreams in 2003. They continue to use the choral canon as the backdrop for their 2007 release, A Day Like This., and 2013′s doubly released LIVE with the WDR Big Band and the much anticipated holiday albumLet it Snow.

Lauren’s versatility as a composer is evidenced in her contributions to New York Voices’ CDs over the years, and co-founding two other super groups, Moss and JaLaLa.  Moss, made up of Luciana Souza, Kate McGarry, Theo Bleckmann, Peter Eldridge and Lauren, released their self-titled CD, Moss, in 2008 to rave reviews.  In 2010, it was included in DownBeat’s ‘Best CDs of the 2000s’ issue.  JaLaLa is short for Janis Siegel (The Manhattan Transfer), Laurel Massé (founding member of The Manhattan Transfer) and Lauren Kinhan, and they released their tribute to Johnny Mercer, That Old Mercer Magic, in 2009.

Her debut solo project, Hardly Blinking, was produced by Phil Ramone, Frank Filipetti and Rob Mounsey and was mixed by Frank and Elliot Scheiner in 2000. It shows off the influence that Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell had on her early writing.  The collection of songs were pulled directly from a live performance at the Bitter End in NYC that Phil Ramone attended and then signed her on the spot.  Expect categories to be dashed with rock anthems sitting next to art pieces.  “Ask Amelia,” “I Saw Love Today,” and “Heaven and Earth” are particular high notes.

You can hear Lauren’s voice on the multi-Grammy nominated Bobby McFerrin project VOCAbuLaireS and Ornette Coleman’s 1996 release Sound Museum, Three Women.   She toured with Ornette, culminating with his 1997 Lincoln Center retrospective, “?Civilization” featuring Billie Higgins, Charlie Haden and Gerrie Allen.  In 1996 Lauren and Japan’s rising star guitarist/producer Jiro Yoshida teamed up to release Guitar and the Moon.  The stellar quartet, featuring Eddie Gomez, showcases her personal take on singing the standards.

Lauren served on the Board of Governors for the Recording Academy’s NY Chapter from 2008-2010.  She currently sits on the committees for Education, Jazz and Grammy Career Day.  Teaching and mentoring are a big part of her schedule.  She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music.

New York Voices

Celebrating their 20th Anniversary in 2009 is just one milestone in this vocal groups illustrious career. New York Voices has been creating their elegant four part harmony, merging jazz, Brasilian jazz, pop, classical and original compositions into one big vocal concept. They have earned their stripes in the jazz arena with their performances on the Grammy-Award-winning Count Basie Orchestra CD Live at the Manchester Craftsman Guild and Paquito D’Rivera’s Brazilian Dreams. Their practiced art form moves seamlessly in and out of many schools, borrowing from the Vocalese legacy of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross and Manhattan Transfer while interpreting their own version of voices emulating instruments and original words speaking the poetry of it’s time.

Formed in 1987 by Darmon Meader, Peter Eldridge, Kim Nazarian, Caprice Fox and Sara Krieger, released their debut CD, New York Voices, in 1989 for GRP Records. They completed three more projects — Hearts of Fire, What's Inside and The Collection. Sara Krieger left the group and was replaced by Lauren Kinhan in 1992, and her first contribution picks up with What’s Inside. In 1994, Caprice Fox left the group, forever fixing NYV as the quartet it is today.

They have tipped their hat to the Big Band Swing era with Sing, Sing, Sing, paid homage to a great American singer/songwriter on New York Voices Sing the Songs of Paul Simon, created a Holiday program and Swing Program for Symphony orchestras, and interlaced their original compositions between jazz standards and contemporary covers on A Day Like This. The four voices are the through line in whatever they produce.

In 2010 they were presented in the Legends of Jazz series with Jon Hendricks and Manhattan Transfer — the first time all three artists have shared the stage.

For more information about the Voices and their tour schedule, please visit newyorkvoices.com.

Moss

“This jazz vocal supergroup has just created the greatest vocal fusion of jazz, rock and folk music since the first record by Bobby McFerrin 26 years ago.” –Jeff Simon, Buffalo News

Individually, they are five phenomenal and distinctive vocalists: Theo Bleckmann, the effusive German-American meistersinger known for his brilliant collaborations with Meredith Monk, Steve Coleman, and Laurie Anderson; Peter Eldridge, an eclectic vocalist, composer, and member of the New York Voices; Lauren Kinhan, known for her charismatic voice, genre bending originals, and her dedicated years as a member of the New York Voices; Kate McGarry, a vocal polymath at home with the folk tradition and the Big Apple bandstand; Luciana Souza, the Brazilian whose repertoire ranges from bossa novas and Elizabeth Bishop to Steely Dan.

Together, they are MOSS, A vocal supergroup that intertwines jazz, classical, pop, folk, electronica, world music, and poetry into an arresting and unique sonic species of art. On their debut recording, they are supported by electric guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Tim Lefebvre; drummer/percussionist Ben Wittman, and acoustic guitarist Keith Ganz (with Eldridge on piano and keyboards).

“I was on a train from New Jersey a few years back, and I bumped into Peter Eldridge. We had talked about working together …” recalls Luciana Souza. “[W]e fantasized about a project where we could join other like-minded singers to write, study, rehearse and blend our different styles of singing, creating a collective sound … [H]ere we had a group of intelligent, open-minded, and unique singers.” Subsequent meetings in Souza’s Upper West Side apartment led to their first gig in 2005 at Manhattan’s Joe’s Pub. They’ve also performed in greater Los Angeles and at the Merkin Concert Hall in New York.

Dramatis Personae

Theo Bleckmann
Bleckmann moved to New York City in 1989, after meeting jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan. His recordings include Looking Glass River (in duo w/Kirk Nurock, Traumton, 1995), No Boat (in duo w/Ben Monder, Songlines, 1997), Origami (Songlines, 2001), Static Still (in duo w/John Hollenbeck, GPE, 2002), Anteroom (Traumton, 2005), Las Vegas Rhapsody (Winter & Winter, 2006), At Night (in duo w/Ben Monder, Songlines, 2007) and Berlin: Songs of Love and War (Winter & Winter, 2007).

Peter Eldridge
Besides six studio recordings with the New York Voices, Eldridge has released three solo projects; Fool No More (Rosebud Records, 2001), Stranger In Town (Rosebud Records, 2001) and Decorum (Rueben’s Tunes, 2005). He has worked or recorded with artists such as Fred Hersch, David Byrne, Medredith Monk and Bobby McFerrin, and was recently invited to join Kurt Elling, Mark Murphy and Jon Hendricks in Four Brothers. His compositions have been recorded by Nancy Wilson, Paquito D’Rivera and Jane Monheit.

Lauren Kinhan
Lauren Kinhan joined New York Voices in the early 90s. Her solo CD, Hardly Blinking(Orchard, 1999) was co-produced by Phil Ramone, Frank Filipetti, and Rob Mounsey. She’s also recorded on Ornette Coleman’s Sound Museum: Three Women (Verve, 1996), and she collaborated with Japanese guitarist Jiro Yoshida on Guitar and The Moon (King Records, 2000).

Kate McGarry
After graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Kate McGarry moved to California, where she worked with pianist Hank Jones, and sang in numerous commercials and films, before relocating to New York in 1999. She sang on Fred Hersch’s Walt Whitman project, Leaves of Grass (Palmetto, 2005), and has performed with bandleader/composer Maria Schneider. Her solo CDs include Easy to Love (Vital, 1992), Show Me (Palmetto, 2003), Mercy Streets (Palmetto, 2005), and The Target (Palmetto, 2007).

Luciana Souza
Luciana Souza has worked with many artists including Danilo Perez, Hermeto Pascoal and Kenny Wheeler, and she’s featured on Herbie Hancock’s Grammy winning River: The Joni Letters (Verve, 2007). Her CDs include An Answer to Your Silence (NYC Records, 1999), The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Other Songs (Sunnyside, 2000), Brazilian Duos (Sunnyside, 2002), North and South (Sunnyside, 2003), Neruda (Sunnyside, 2004), Duos II (Sunnyside, 2005), and The New Bossa Nova (Verve, 2007).

JaLaLa

John Herndon Mercer, aka Johnny Mercer, was more than just a lyricist of popular song; he was a true American poet and That Old Mercer Magic! is an amazing new project from three equally amazing ladies called JaLaLa; Janis Siegel of The Manhattan Transfer, Laurel Massé (an original founding and former member of The Manhattan Transfer) and Lauren Kinhan of New York Voices fame.

Siegel, a nine-time Grammy winner, seventeen-time Grammy nominee and one of the founding members of the vocal group The Manhattan Transfer jumped at the chance to do a full project of Mercer songs. The most difficult challenge of the project, which is a testament to Mercer’s true genius, was picking just 12 songs that would encompass a well-rounded representation of his popular compositions, said Siegel. Yet the easiest part for Janis was creating the vocal group JaLaLa in collaboration with two of her favorite singers Laurel Massé and Lauren Kinhan, both being acclaimed vocalists whether singing in harmony or showing off their solo chops.

Standout tracks are; “Spring, Spring, Spring” from the Tony-Award-winning Broadway musical Li’l Abner and “You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby,” which starts off with an underutilized verse and then shifts into a funky party gear with a New Orleans feel featuring Lew Soloff on trumpet. Fans new and old will also enjoy the signature “Dream,” which was highlighted in the Oscar-nominated musical film Daddy Long Legs that featured Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron, one of the few songs that Mercer penned both music and lyric. Another Mercer classic, “Moon River,” written with Henry Mancini for the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is given a heartrending wistful treatment by Laurel Massé and Frank Vignola, then languidly glides into “Moon Country,” a Mercer/Hoagy Carmichael collaboration. JaLaLa will certainly please the legion of Mercer fans while irresistibly enticing today’s music listening generation with That Old Mercer Magic!