Press Photos I
I Articles I Reviews for Happy To Be
The late, respected jazz critic Leonard
Feather once said of jazz singer Julie Kelly, "Julie Kelly
radiates a sense of joy and spontaneity. Listening to her, you are
reminded that jazz singing is still alive and well!" Feather's
successor at the Los Angeles Times, the veteran critic Don Heckman,
referred to Kelly as having, "one of the finest vocal jazz
instruments of the '90's".
Born in Oakland, California, Kelly grew up absorbing
gospel, blues and jazz in addition to pop and classical music. "When
was 13," she remembers, "I was listening to Thelonius
Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, as well as Dave Brubeck,
those wonderful albums with Miles Davis and Gil Evans. It wasn't
before I was sneaking into clubs in Oakland in order to hear people
like Earl "Fatha" Hines." She added: "The blues
is what guides me, and
the great ones have shown the way."
All of these various musical influences are,
in some form or other,
incorporated into her latest and best vocal album, "Kelly Sings
Christy". Her complete understanding of the nuances, so much
a part of
various ballads associated with June Christy, are resplendent in
CD. In addition, Tom Garvin's excellent arrangements work perfectly
tandem with Kelly's delightful re-interpretations of the songs.
Her earliest musical performing experience consisted
of choral singing
while attending Catholic prep schools that proceeded her forming
and blues duo with her twin sister, Kate, in the 1970's to work
local coffee houses. The duo also performed as the opening act for
Peter, Paul and Mary and also appeared at the well-remembered Fillmore
Auditorium produced by the then-emerging rock impresario, Bill Graham.
At Oakland City College, Kelly took a jazz appreciation class from
noted jazz pianist George Duke and attended workshops conducted
vibist Bobby Hutcherson.
The year of 1971 Kelly spent in Brazil, and
that had a profound effect
on her musical development. During that period, she spent valuable
time in Rio de Janeiro performing with the notable musicians Carlos
Lyra and Luis Eca and meeting young, emerging artists like Milton
Returning to the United States, she landed in New York City and, as she well-described it: "I soaked up everything I could
York. Chick Corea had formed Return to Forever, so there was a modern
movement going on in jazz. I hung out at a jazz club called the
and heard mainstream virtuosos like Jim Hall, Ron Carter, Kenny
Burrell, Gene Bertoncini, Michael Moore, Tal Farlow. In the summer,
worked at the Music Inn in Stockbridge, MA and everybody came through!
Charles Mingus, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Stan Getz, it was wild!"
Returning to the San Francisco Bay Area in late
1970's Kelly came to
an important musical crossroads: "I decided to commit myself
body and soul! I played in a number of interesting groups and was
member of John Handy's ensemble. " I played guitar and sang
Brazilian music, there was an African dancer and a koto player.
to think of it, John's group was a prototype for so much of the
music that's popular today."
moved to Los Angeles in 1980 and shortly after that began her recording
career with Pausa Records. Her 1984 "We're On Our Way"
contains her captivating version of Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen's
"All My Tomorrows". Two years later there was "Never
Let Me Go". In 1992 she recorded "Some Other Time"
on CMG Records with the remarkable pianist/arranger Tom Garvin and
in 1997, "Stories To Tell" was released in collaboration
with pianist arranger Bill Cunliffe. Julie and Bill colllaborated
again on her 1999 "Into The Light" and now Julie teams
back up with Tom Garvin for "Kelly Sings Christy".
During her years in Los Angeles she has worked
with such luminaries as
Benny Green, Nat Adderley, Ray Brown, John Clayton, Ross Tompkins,
Ojeda, Gary Foster, and Alan Broadbent. Julie can be found in Leonard
Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz.