It is always good to support local artists and possibly even more so if it is a young artist trying to make her/his way in jazz. This is the case with the 22 year old Olivia Castle who was the guest on Cosmic Jazz this week. As she said to me herself, perhaps it is unusual for someone of her age to love the American Songbook jazz standards, but love them she does – and then she places her own interpretation on the tunes when she sings.
Listen to the show and find out what Olivia says about how to sing standards and put your own mark on them. She was very eloquent, also, in her assertion that the voice is an instrument – something we touched on a week or two back when we played the Janet Lawson Quintet. Olivia has an album available called Siren Song and she played five tracks from that album, accompanied by the evergreen Laurie Holloway on piano. Laurie’s experience is well known – as musical director for Michael Parkinson’s chat shows, touring with Frank Sinatra and writing some of the most popular UK TV theme tunes. Check out Olivia’s website at oliviacastle.com have a look at her YouTube video below. Olivia is determined to go far and seems to be making all the right moves – watch out for her.
Olivia also played three of her favourite jazz vocal tunes. These included Nat King Cole (no surprise in that choice), but maybe more so with trumpeter Chet Baker using that fragile, delicate voice to draw the listener in to his version of the jazz standard Time after Time (that’s the Cahn/Styne 1947 song, rather than Cindi Lauper’s tune which was so eloquently turned into a contemporary jazz standard by Miles Davis). Her final choice was American producer and vocalist Steve Tyrell, whose version of The Way You Look Tonight featured in Steve Martin’s film Father of the Bride.
The show was recorded on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Billie Holiday, so it was appropriate to begin the show with her singing Strange Fruit, that haunting tune that held audiences in sustained and tearful attention when she sang it. There were also Cosmic Jazz favourites N’Dambi and Rachelle Ferrell, who incidentally has a version of My Funny Valentine, on her album First Instrument as does Olivia on Siren Song and that was one of her selections on the show . There was also Ursula Rucker rapping with Elements of Life. Is that jazz; who knows? Olivia and I agreed that jazz is open to many interpretations and that will always remain the philosophy of Cosmic Jazz.
- Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit from Jazz Greats: Billie Holiday
- N’Dambi – Call Me from Tunin’ Up & Consignin’
- Rachelle Ferrell – Inchworm from First Instrument
- Olivia Castle – Cheek to Cheek from Siren Song
- Olivia Castle – Makin’ Whoopee from Siren Song
- Nat King Cole – Walking My Baby Back Home from Walking My Baby Back Home
- Chet Baker – Time After Time from The Complete Original Chet Baker Sings Sessions
- Olivia Castle – Over The Rainbow from Siren Song
- Olivia Castle – My Funny Valentine from Siren Song
- Elements Of Life – This Is Us (Roots Mix) from Eclipse
- Steve Tyrell – The Way You Look Tonight from I’ll Take Romance
- Olivia Castle – That Old Devil Called Love from Siren Song