Grammy Award Winning Group Celebrates 25th Anniversary & New CD
New York Voices Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne is Group's First Full Live Album
Just Out March 5, 2013 on Palmetto Records, the live album presents fresh arrangements of new and vintage favorites, helping to mark the 25th anniversary year of New York Voices
"From the introduction of "Baby Driver," when the New York Voices pretend they are the Woody Herman sax section, "Live With the WDR Big Band Cologne" shows this is the best vocal group in jazz."
- Bob Karlovits, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"The big band arrangements, raw energy and excitement of New York Voices Live propels this elite group to another level. Of course that's not surprising when you combine four superb and talented vocalists with a world-class ensemble, the result should be, and is in this case, a sizzling vocal and instrumental experience." - Edward Blanco, All About Jazz
New York Voices - one of the premier jazz vocal groups at work today - celebrates their 25th anniversary and the release of their new Palmetto Records' CD New York Voices Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne in concert on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at the St. Charles High School Auditorium, 255 Red Gate Road, St. Charles, IL. Concert begins at 7:30 p.m. with an opening set by the St. Charles Vocal Jazz Workshop. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for students in advance; $25 at the door.
The concert is part of The New York Voices Jazz Festival at St. Charles North, a non-competitive invitational event open to high school and college vocal jazz groups from around the nation. A total of six high schools and six colleges will perform a 20-minute set for members of the New York Voices to be followed by a separate 30-minute clinic with one member.
On their new CD, the Grammy Award winning vocal quartet teams with Germany's acclaimed WDR Big Band Cologne for the vocal ensemble's first full live album to be released on March 5. New York Voices Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne presents new material and vintage favorites in richly colored big-band arrangements by lauded veteran Michael Abene. The live album resulted from a 2008 concert in Cologne, Germany, that was recorded as part of 20th-anniversary touring by the vocal quartet of Kim Nazarian, Lauren Kinhan, Darmon Meader and Peter Eldridge. Abene conducts the ace WDR (Western German Radio) Big Band in a program of freshly conceived pop standards, artful New York Voices originals, beloved songs by Paul Simon and Annie Lennox, and such hip jazz evergreens as Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments."
New York Voices Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne includes three songs new to the New York Voices discography: a jazz vision of Annie Lennox's pop hit "Cold," a swinging update of the 1920s Broadway tune "Love Me or Leave Me" and a virtuoso a cappella take on Lerner & Lowe's "Almost Like Being in Love." The concert recording was preceded by a luxurious three rehearsals with Abene and the WDR Big Band, imbuing the performances with seamless ease and energized confidence. "The concert was a blast - you can hear that in the recording," says Peter Eldridge of New York Voices. "The WDR Big Band is full of great players, who can get in deep with an incredible range of music. People have always remarked on the energy of New York Voices live - and that's what this album captures in full for the first time, I think. The songs are a mix of old and new - which is apt as we come up on our 25th anniversary."
Highlights of the album include that gorgeous take on Oliver Nelson's early-'60s instrumental classic "Stolen Moments," with the lyrics of Mark Murphy. There is a virtuoso rendition of "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" and a hard-swinging "Darn That Dream," as well as two numbers reprised from the group's 1998 RCA studio set New York Voices Sing the Songs of Paul Simon: "Baby Driver" and "I Do It for Your Love." Then there are two originals: the moody, mellifluous "The World Keeps You Waiting" by Eldridge and Laura Kinhan; and the Chick Corea-influenced showpiece "The Sultan Fainted" by Eldridge and Meader.
New York Voices Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne reunites New York Voices with arranger-conductor Michael Abene, who produced the vocal group's very first studio album, released by GRP in 1989. Music director and principal arranger-conductor of the WDR Big Band since 2003, the Brooklyn-born Abene has a resume marked by stints with the bands of Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich and Mel Lewis, as well as work with singers from Liza Minnelli to B.B. King to Patti Austin. He has also composed works for Paquito D'Rivera and Holland's Metropole Jazz Orchestra.
"Michael has a certain expressive angularity to his writing, but his arrangements swing so hard - there's a real earthiness to the sounds he gets," explains New York Voices member Darmon Meader, co-producer of the album. "Mike is an old-school cat who has really lived this idiom and really knows his band, stimulating the players with the intricacies and blends in his charts, the challenging lines. For what's ostensibly a vocal album, the big band is featured extensively - which is very exciting. And we function in the arrangements almost like another section of the band, with our four-part harmony similar to what a sax section would do. This album really reinforces the idea of New York Voices being connected to the lineage of instrumental jazz."
Celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2013, New York Voices is the Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble renowned for their excellence in jazz and the art of group singing. Like the great jazz vocal groups that have come before, such as Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Singers Unlimited and Manhattan Transfer, the foursome of Kim Nazarian, Lauren Kinhan, Darmon Meader and Peter Eldridge have learned from the best and taken the art form to new levels. Time Out Chicago has said of New York Voices: "We dare say there may be no better way to understand the wit and wink of jazz harmony than via these Voices."
From 1989 to 1994, New York Voices released four albums on the GRP label: New York Voices, Hearts of Fire, What's Inside and The Collection. The group has also starred on albums by the Count Basie Orchestra, Paquito D'Rivera and Jim Hall, among others. In 1998, the quartet released the RCA album New York Voices Sing the Songs of Paul Simon. Of that hit album, All Music Guide says: "The arrangements are brighter and brassier than Simon's originals, but there's a real charm to the performances that makes it a thoroughly entertaining experience." In 2001, New York Voices issued the Concord album Sing Sing Sing, featuring the group's spin on the great big-band songbook. The Los Angeles Times said of that album: "The title track quickly lays down what to expect from the balance of the program: complex, interwoven vocal lines, interactive improvising and brisk ensemble accompaniment. And revivalist swing fans - both players and listeners - would do well to check out the Voices' capacity to bring a contemporary quality to classic material without sacrificing the essence of either."
The interests of New York Voices are rooted in jazz, but the members often incorporate Brazilian, R&B, classical and pop influences. In recent years, the group has been called upon by the Boston Pops to bring a new edge to the pops orchestra circuit across the U.S. In 2007, New York Voices released the album A Day Like This via the MCG Jazz label. The quartet mixed things up again, ranging from Brazilian sounds and swinging trio numbers to a couple of big-band romps and a handful of original songs by the members. New York Voices have appeared on the world's great stages, from Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the Blue Note (in New York and Japan) to the opera houses of Vienna and Zurich, plus the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.