Saturday, September 23, 2017

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Saxophonist & singer Grace Kelly to make St. Louis debut

This week, let's get acquainted via video with saxophonist and singer Grace Kelly, who will make her St. Louis debut with shows starting Wednesday, October 4 through Saturday, October 7 at Jazz at the Bistro.

While these will be her first performances in St. Louis, Kelly, 25, already is a music business veteran. She's performed in North America, South America, Europe and Asia, at venues including Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Birdland, the Kennedy Center, Boston Symphony Hall, Jazz Standard, and Blues Alley in the USA, and at Ronnie Scott's, Duc des Lombard, Porgy & Bess, and more overseas, as well as major jazz festivals in Detroit, Newport, Montreal, Toronto, and elsewhere.

Born and raised in the Boston area, Kelly was something of a prodigy, releasing her first CD at age 12. During her teen years, she jammed with and befriended respected jazz elders like Phil Woods and Lee Konitz, both of whom wound up recording with her. Kelly earned her GED at 16 and went on to attend Berklee College of Music, graduating in 2011 when she was just 19. In all, she has recorded a total of ten albums as a leader, the most recent being 2016's Trying To Figure It Out, which finished second in the "Jazz Album of the Year" category in DownBeat's 2016 Readers Poll.

Touted as a potential crossover success, Kelly has gained wider exposure as a recurring guest performer with keyboardist Jon Batiste and the house band for CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and as a member of the house band for the NBC variety show Maya & Marty. She also recently was featured in a second-season episode of Amazon's cop show Bosch, playing herself and performing a song in a scene filmed at the Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles.

You can see and hear some recent samples of Kelly's playing and singing in today's videos, starting up above with "Lemons Make Lemonade," recorded in April of this year at the studios of public radio station KNKX in Tacoma, WA.

In this clip, and in the one of her funked-up version of the hymn "Amazing Grace" immediately after the jump, she's backed by her working band, which includes keyboardist Julian Pollack, bassist Julia Pederson, and drummer Ross Pederson.

The third video is a full set of Kelly and band recorded in August 2017 at the Cape Cod Jazz Festival in Massachusetts. Given that this set happened just a few weeks ago, it would seem to be a reasonable facsimile of what St. Louis listeners might expect when she gets here.

Kelly shows off a different look and sound in the fourth video, in which she guest-stars with the high-concept cover band Postmodern Jukebox on what's described as a "retro jazz version" of vocal group Fifth Harmony's 2015 pop hit "Worth It." While this sort of thing may raise a few eyebrows among the stodgiest jazz purists, it's an entertaining showcase for (at least some of) her skills that potentially could reel in some new fans.

In the fifth video, Kelly guest-stars on a episode of the web series Studio Jams for a version of the standard "Georgia On My Mind," recorded back in March 2016.

The final clip offers a glimpse of Kelly from earlier in her career. Recorded in 2012, it shows her sitting in on a set at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston with St. Louis' own David Sanborn, organist Joey DeFrancesco and drummer Byron Landham, playing Hank Crawford's "The Peeper" and the blues standard "Let The Good Times Roll."

For more about Grace Kelly, you can check out her 2016 interview with WGBH in Boston; the 2014 episode of Voice of America's Beyond Category that features her, and recent interviews with Las Vegas magazine and AFM's magazine International Musician.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump....

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