Archive for April 26th, 2010

Ranee Lee – Lives Upstairs

It’s been a rather amazing journey for Ranee Lee, who for several decades has reigned virtually unchallenged as the Queen of Canada’s jazz divas. Ms. Lee recently won the coveted Juno Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year (beating out Diana Krall, Emilie-Claire Barlow and Carol Welsman) for Lives Upstairs, her new release for Justin Time, Canada’s leading jazz label. “That recognition really does give you the seal of approval,” says Ranee, who has recorded many albums for the Montreal label. She has won and been nominated for many awards for both her singing and teaching; she’s played at every major jazz festival in North America and the world; she’s shared the stage and the microphone with hundreds of the great players of our time.

(What isn’t quite as well known is that Ms. Lee is a native New Yorker – born and raised in Brooklyn, as a matter of fact. “I think that everybody grew up in Brooklyn,” she says. “Every time I meet someone from the states they’ve either lived there or are still there – it’s like the center of the universe or something!”)

Ms. Lee’s first album, Live At “Le Bijou” was taped at that club in Old Montreal in 1983, but, unbelievably, she has not recorded a live album since. Lives Upstairs brings her back full circle and celebrates ten albums and nearly 30 years. (Ms. Lee informs us that the album is pronounced “Lives” in the sense of “Bird Lives” and not in the sense of “Private Lives.”) Both the title and the album cover are a play on Upstairs, the name of Canada’s most venerated jazz club, which is ironic since the performance space is famously located in a basement in Montreal.

The considerations of performing before a live audience and that of making an album are not always consistent with each other; however, Ms. Lee is more than sagacious enough to reconcile the two and find their common ground. “Every recording I’ve made comes out of the repertory that I enjoy singing most,” she says. “Most of it is traditional, songs that I’ve learned, in some cases almost by osmosis. Through the years I’ve developed a wider repertoire.” She notes that she learned both Jimmy McHugh’s “I Just Found Out About Love” and Johnny Mandel’s “A Time for Love” from Shirley Horn. The first is a fast-moving show tune (from the unsuccessful Strip For Action) that Horn actually learned from Nat King Cole and which opens the proceedings here with a definite bang, and “A Time for Love” is one of the most intensely romantic performances on the set. Continue reading

Gregg Holsey – Can’t Stop

Gregg Holsey is a bassist, singer, songwriter, and producer. He began playing bass at an early age. By the time he was 18 he had played with many of Detroit’s local recording’s groups. Gregg has spent half of his life traveling playing music. He has toured Canada and the United States and Asia. For the last 15 years he was living in Japan working and touring with Japanese artists.

He also had the opportunity of playing for the king of Thailand and doing 6 song’s on his CD. He is also a great sax player. From there he moved to Malaysia were he co-produced a CD for Malaysia’s number 1 singing group 4you2see. He also did commercials there for Northwestern Airlines. Gregg moved back to the states, were he relocated in Sacramental California. That’s were he met guitarist rock blues singer Mark Lamountain.

From there he moved back to his hometown of Detroit, where he put his R&B and smooth jazz CD together entitled Music For The Soul. Gregg  founded his label  called Komaki Records, and has another CD out on the net with the title Can’t Stop. Gregg also put together a tight 8 piece band with some of the hottest musician in the Detroit Area. Watch out for Gregg Holsey and Friends