APPLETON, WIS. – Jazz vocalist Jackie Allen and her five-member band join musical forces with the Lawrence University Chamber Orchestra in a unique concert pairing Saturday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.
Tickets for the 2008-09 Lawrence Jazz Series concert, at $20-22 for adults, $17-19 for seniors and $15-17 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 420 E. College Ave., Appleton, or by phone, 920-832-6749.
Hailed by Down Beat magazine as “a model of lustrous tone and clear headed energy,” Allen was among the first artists to find common ground between her jazz foundation and the world of popular music with her 1994 album “Never Let Me Go.”
She has since recorded seven more albums, including the jazz-infused, pop-charged “Tangled,” with which she made her Blue Note Records debut in 2006.
A Wisconsin native and graduate of the University of Wisconsin who now calls Chicago home, Allen enjoyed a musically diverse upbringing. Growing up she played the French horn and listened to music that included Dixieland jazz tunes by her tuba-playing father, as well as the rock sounds of the Beatles and pop ballads of Elton John and Billy Joel.
Fred Sturm, professor of music and director of jazz studies at Lawrence says Allen’s vocal talents allow her to “blur the demarcation lines between genres with ease.”
“Jackie’s personal music history is diversely rooted in pop, folk, rock and jazz music,” said Sturm. “She’s as comfortable with the music of Annie Lennox and Randy Newman as she is singing jazz standards made famous by Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. While so many singers ‘cover’ tunes by emulating the original artists and recordings, Jackie puts a unique personal stamp on each of her renditions.”
Highlighting the concert will be featured selections from Allen’s 2008 “Starry Night” project, a collection of romantic jazz classics, backed by the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Sturm. This will be the first time members of the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra are performing on a Jazz Series program.
“This really is a rare opportunity for our classical orchestral students to perform a professional ‘gig’ with a jazz and popular music artist,” said Sturm. “It’s incredibly rare to have a university orchestra engaged in the workings of a college jazz program, in particular the school’s jazz artist series. All the credit goes to LSO conductor David Becker, who wants his classical students to have this kind of educational experience.”
Allen has performed on tours throughout the world, including Brazil, China and Morocco, as well as Europe’s North Sea Jazz Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Closer to home, she has been featured on the main stage of Chicago’s Jazz Festival and Ravinia Festival.
Her recordings have included collaborations with noted jazz artists Von Freeman, Roy McCurdy and Ira Sullivan.
Dane Richeson, director of percussion studies at Lawrence, is the drummer in Allen’s band.