I grew up playing guitar and singing folk, soul & pop, but at my earliest had crawled around to Ella, Sarah, Louis Armstrong, the Duke, Frank, & discovered Dinah, Billie (played nothing else for months), Louis Jordan, Miles, Clifford. I could go on, of course. Latter-day: Daniela Mercury, Marisa Monte, Dianne Reeves, Elis, & plenty of non-jazz too—indie rockers (I got from daughter Manjula) like Gillian Welsh, Liz Phair—the list is endless.
My life: was raised immersed in the melange of cultures in Riverside, CA (hence loving languages)—but migrated up the coast to Santa Cruz for most of my adult years, except for life-changing sojourns in New York, Paris & Baja. Later Kauai & Italy. Originally trained as an actor (Beatrice in Much Ado in the first production at the Performing Arts Theatre, UC Santa Cruz) and director (dissertation on Marguerite Duras), and have always been a writer (day job). But I took to jazz and studied with Ray Brown (the Stan Getz trumpeter, not the bassist) as well as many wonderful vocalists: Michele Rivard, Faith Winthrop, finally my girl Trelawny Rose, who produced the vocals on my Four Sweets CD. I lost her to The Voice—she is now head vocal coach there!
I've always preferred a place where I could perform regularly—and this was true from the get-go, in Santa Cruz when I started playing out. An amazing old gentleman & terrific trumpeter, Bob Smith, put together a full jazz band and we played every Friday night at Positively Front Street until it burned down. He had heard me sing and then asked me to front the band right away—I had no idea what I was doing, but it was a great gig with wonderful players. I could tell you stories! The booker at the gorgeous Shadowbrook saw me at Bocci’s, where the jazz society always played and I had a couple of regular Friday runs. I remember I did Dindi & other Brazilian tunes—and he booked me for a weekly night (Martini Mondays!) and I continued there off and on the years I was still in the area. Looking back I completely get how lucky I was—with opportunities to play with guys like Murray Low, Stan Poplin & all the guys on my Softly CD, as well as more sweet wonderful Santa Cruz players than I can name. Softly was recorded before I left Santa Cruz, at Ridgetop Sound studio with Tim Prince.
When I relocated to LA in '03, the city of angels took me under its tattered but shiny and flightworthy wing. Have had the great good fortune to play (and record Four Sweets) with some of this city's world-class artists: Liz Kinnon, Josh Nelson, Hussain Jiffry, Enzo Todesco, Gerald Clayton, Kirk Brundage, Roberto Montero, Dick Mitchell—and the opportunity to perform hundreds of times in many configurations & venues, in LA & all around.
After long runs in downtown LA at small clubs, I settled in at Santino’s, a lovely (and happening!) Argentinian restaurant not far from me here on the west side. Santino’s nourished the Los Pinguos band and other great players like Fabiano Nascimiento and Norma LaTuchie. I was there for many years with guys like Bruce Forman, John Storie, Mike Scott, Bennett Brandeis, and a sweet long time with Dan Anderson—whom I would practice with in their tiny bungalow in Culver City, singing and waltzing with baby Stuart while Dan played.
I also sang for three years with a pop vocal trio: Three of Diamonds with Eric Vincent and Tony Perez, sweetest guys on the planet, and just what I needed to keep me at it in the last years of my mom’s life.
And I can’t leave out the Shadies. I’ve performed jazz here and there in Santa Cruz since I moved south, but started singing with my dear friends’ band Playtime in 2008, great Americana/indie/alternative, pretty rockin, which morphed into the Shady Characters—same great music but all about the dancing now. I still sing in with them when I’m up there, upstairs in the wine bar at the end of the wharf, with the most gorgeous views on the coast.
My own repertoire is increasingly eclectic—Brazilian-based but widely ranging. I’m so lucky to be performing regularly now with Fefe Lee of Los Pinguos. I’m also working on recording a series of ballads with different artists, as well as more jazz, soul & pop in more killer Afro-Brazilian rhythms. Write me about a house concert party—they’re the best!