The vocal jazz ensemble world is a small one, to be sure. Our little awesome niche in the vast musical world has been incredibly fulfilling to me for a number of reasons, but one of those has been that...you know...it really is possible to meet your heroes and heroines. Because of my work in vocal jazz over the years, I even get to drop Pat Metheny's name every once in a while, and even if I never have another gig again with Ben Folds, his name will likely be in my bio forever. And from working with Ben, I got to write some horn parts for Sara Bareilles and Julia and I (and some of my UNC students) got to sing backgrounds for her at the Kennedy Center. Pretty stinkin' cool.
The New York Voices need absolutely ZERO introduction to anyone who has even passed by a vocal jazz ensemble performance (maybe an exaggeration?), and so, clearly, anyone who has dedicated their entire life to the sub-sub-sub-genre considers them to be the modern-day gold standard for the art form, particularly as it relates to the type of music sung by jazz choirs/vocal jazz ensembles in schools in the US and Canada. Each New York Voice, individually, has released beautiful solo records and worked in a number of educational and artistic contexts, building their own profiles to seriously respectable statures while still being incredibly approachable, down-to-Earth, wonderful human beings. Lauren Kinhan, Kim Nazarian and Peter Eldridge were all highly visible and active at this January's Jazz Education Network conference in New Orleans. A chart I wrote for Fairview High School on Lauren's "I Saw Love Today" was premiered by their super-talented "Age of Guinevere", directed by Janice Vlachos, and Lauren sang the lead line with them, creating a now hard-wired memory for everyone in attendance, but especially those of us who were involved (including Julia, who sang all the parts on the demo, which you will get to hear in May!).
My VoicesBeyond Collection is growing each year, as I seek out great charts written by fantastic writers, some of whom you likely won't know yet, and some of whom are prolific enough to be featured quite often (David von Kampen ring a bell?). I'm also proud of our collections of arrangements performed by Groove For Thought (largely written by Kelly Kunz) and Accent, both of which grew a little at the start of the new year with Kelly's long-awaited "Spain" chart, James Rose's "Honor, Honor" and Simon Åkesson's "Keep the Faith."
But if I can be forgiven for being just a little bit giddy about a new chart addition...it's the fact that we're now publishing a new arrangement by Peter Eldridge of his drop-dead gorgeous song (co-written with Cliff Goldmacher) "Wish You With Me," which he performs with the great Becca Stevens on Disappearing Day. When we started working on publishing it and Julia and I were recording the demo, I told Peter that I'm pretty sure this one is going to be a big hit in the vocal jazz scene...maybe along the lines of Pentatonix's "Run To You" (comp. Ben Bram) that's still making the rounds at festivals in the US and Canada. PTX gave that chart away for free on their site, so maaaybe I'm exaggerating with my expectations a bit, but the chart will sing really easily, is only accompanied by piano (making it easy to assemble) and is utterly, amazingly gorgeous.
Just give it a listen...seriously.
It's an honor to be able to work with one of my long-time heroes and to be able to call him a friend as well. And I promise that this won't be our last collaboration (actually, I'm sure of it, as I wrote a chart for Sac State on his "Warm December" that will come out in May...but, like...other neat and fun things coming down the pike as well).