As I mentioned before, Grace Kelly came through Seattle for two night at the Jazz Alley, which is the club that all of the big touring acts come through. I caught the show, and it was great!
I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Grace plays straight-ahead stuff, but also very contemporary stuff as well.
First impressions – she’s an amazing singer! I didn’t really run across many videos of her singing on YouTube, so I didn’t realize how talented she is. And she probably sang 40% of the show. The rest of the time she played Alto, except for maybe two songs on Soprano.
She’s also a very talented writer and arranger. Her original music is very good – you can tell she has dedicated a lot of time and effort to her craft. From her stories about the songs, it’s also clear that she’s always writing. Ideas come to her at odd times, but she’s tuned in to those sources of inspiration, and she doesn’t let them slip away like too many of us do.
Her arrangements are very fresh too. She was playing with a quartet: Sax/voice, Piano/keys, electric bass, and acoustic/electric drums. The electronic components gave the quartet a very versatile sound, allowing them to go in many unexpected directions.
She also connects very well with her audience – sharing stories between songs, and dancing freely around the stage. She’s a very honest and genuine performer who seems to love what she does.
One nice touch was that she brought up one of her young students, an eight grader who studies with her over Skype. What a resource to have at that age! At that age I had just joined my first ‘stage band’ and was taking lessons from a clarinet player because our school didn’t have a dedicated sax teacher. I didn’t know anything about jazz or improvised music.
She had her student write a blues song, perform as a duet, solo with the band, and trade solos with her. She had him take nice long solos in front of a big crowd – quite a workout for kid his age, but he did great and the crowd loved it. I appreciated that she didn’t condescend to him or let him off easy with one chorus. She really made him work! As someone who came up as a child prodigy, you can see the effect her mentors had on her when she was younger. It’s great to see her giving back to the next generation.