May Day!

Lauren Kinhan Photo

Is it Spring Yet?

Here’s a little shout out to all my winter, housebound, compatriots across the world. I don’t mean to exclude those of you who are already enjoying warm weather, it’s just that, we’ve really had a winter this year. January came along and snowed out one of my Manhattan shows, leaving me no choice but to board the Hampton Jitney and beat the storm before it laid it’s bed. It proved the right decision, even though I disappointed a handful of intrepid New Yorkers ready to brave the onslaught of what Mother Nature had in store.

It has been a productive winter though, in fact, I got out quite a bit. I made use of the snow days to sled down hills with my daughter and found time to jot down words for new songs. I did a handful of solo shows in NY and on Long Island and used the time wisely to break in new repertoire and keep the creative juices flowing. Check out my recent YouTube clip of “The Deep Within;” a spiritual beckoning of spring and a renewal of love and faith in good things to come.

The new music that is springing forth is feeling really good. There is a nice variety of songs tipping their hat to the standards while not squelching my appetite for a hearty blues or a new twist on a Brazilian muse. You can count on me to offer that mixed bouquet and let the words and voice provide the glue.

New York Voices traveled hither and yon, hitting some old favorite spots and traveling to new countries far far away.

Before we traveled far, we had the pleasure of driving an hour and a half to the Mohonk Mountain Lodge in NY. It’s from the turn of the century where winter snow shoeing, ice skating, and snow tubing are on the daily list of things to do, intermixed with the jazz festival and three hearty meals a day. We always leave so full in every way.

In March, NYV went to the Java Jazz Festival in Indonesia, the Mosaic Festival in Singapore and we were supposed to go on to Japan until the earthquake changed everything. I brought my daughter and husband on this tour as we had a handful of days at each stop, so it seemed like a great adventure for my nine year old. In Jakarta, she went from seeing the Modern Jazz Quartet to Santana and everything in between. This substantial music exposure helped balance out the Justin Bieber and Miranda Cosgrove shows we attended over the winter months. Someday she’ll appreciate meeting George Benson, but until then, I’ll just keep it on simmer and let her forge her own musical story.

Going to Bali for the first time was an added bonus to the trip. We stayed in a traditional hotel, plantations style, that was beyond beautiful. The concert was a delight intermixed with local bands, a set by Roberta Gamberini and then finally having her sit in with us. What a mega talent she is.

We had another great concert with our pals in The Manhattan Transfer. We each did our own sets, but we have also developed songs to do together. It’s been amazing getting to know them all and it looks as though this program is getting more bookings. After our concert, we were supposed to pack our bags and leave for Japan. This was, however, the day of the earthquake and tsunami. By the next morning, we were in stages of postponing our trip and by 24 hours later, we cancelled the trip entirely and rerouted home. It was and still is so devastating to see the pain and loss experienced by the people of Japan. Many of us in the jazz community feel very connected to our friends there and are involved in the benefits that have sprung up all over the world to raise money for them. In fact, on April 18 Janis Siegel and I participated in a benefit promoted by the Blue Note and Charles Carlini. Paquito joined me in my set and then stayed to play “The Man I Love” with Janis and I. The roster of jazz artists that came out was first class and we all felt good about the sold out room and over $30,000 that was raised.

JaLaLa is getting ready for another NYC date at Birdland on May 16 and a big concert at Kennedy Center’s Women in Jazz Festival on May 19. We’ve added some great new arrangements of Dave Bruebeck’s “Unsquare Dance,” a Boswell Sister’s tune “It’s You,” and an arrangement by me of “Come to Baby Do” inspired by a Doris Day recording. Come to see us do!

Also in May, NYV is heading to California for some fun in the sun, one would hope! We’re playing the Bakersfield Jazz Festival, Yoshi’s in SF, and Kuumbwa in Santa Cruz. Then we’re coming right back to NY to play four nights at the Jazz Standard! There are just plenty of chances to come visit me!

Wishing you all a festive spring.

Yours Truly,