New York Voices
2013 marks New York Voices' 25th Anniversary in music. The Grammy Award winning vocal group has refined their musical story to a high art. They are known for their close-knit voicings, inspired arrangements and unparalleled vocal blend. Their chameleon-like musicianship allows them to move seamlessly from setting to setting, be it orchestral/big band to the intimate trio lineup. With deep interests rooted in jazz, Brazilian, R & B, classical, and pop, their music mixes traditional sensibilities with more than a dash of the unexpected. They are first call from great arrangers and conductors like Don Sebesky, Michael Abene, Keith Lockhart, and Rob Fisher who all know and admire the complexity of what they do and want something out of the ordinary, something extraordinary. Like the great jazz vocal groups that have come before — Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Singers Unlimited, and The Manhattan Transfer — they are firmly a part of that legacy and are dedicated to passing it on to generations to come.
The celebratory year opens with the release of New York Voices Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne on Palmetto Records. This project is a collection of past favorites, current in-rotation tunes, and brand new arrangements. The big band charts were all written by the incomparable Michael Abene, the producer of their 1989 debut CD on GRP. The WDR — the critically acclaimed big band based in Cologne, Germany — pairs perfectly with NYV’s musicality and might. Closing the 25th Anniversary year is a much-anticipated New York Voices Holiday CD, yet to be titled. At the producer helm is the great Elliot Scheiner (producer of NYV’s Big Band CD, Sing! Sing! Sing!).
Formed by Darmon Meader, Peter Eldridge, Kim Nazarian, Caprice Fox, and Sara Krieger, New York Voices had their first performances in 1988. Darmon, Peter, Kim, and Caprice attended Ithaca College in NY and were part of an invitational alumni group formed to tour the European Jazz Festival circuit in the summer of ’86. In 1989 they would sign their first record deal with GRP Records and release their self titled debut album, New York Voices. The group received rave notices and quickly received domestic and international recognition in the jazz world. From ’89 to ’94, they released four CDs on the GRP label, New York Voices, Hearts of Fire, What’s Inside, and Collection.
While recording for GRP, they underwent personnel changes. In 1992, Sara Krieger retired her chair, and after auditioning over 60 vocalists from all over the United States, the group found Lauren Kinhan. There was an immediate chemistry, allowing the group to make a quick transition and become the “new” New York Voices. Lauren’s first musical contributions can be heard on NYV’s third CD, What’s Inside, released in May 1993. In early 1994, Caprice Fox left the group, forever fixing NYV as the quartet it is today.
In addition to their own CDs, NYV has made many guest appearances on recordings and live performances that have earned them critical acclaim and demand in a variety of settings. You can find their performances on such CDs as the Grammy Award winning Count Basie Orchestra with New York Voices, Live at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG Records), the Latin Grammy Award winning Brazilian Dreams with the great Paquito D’Rivera, the contemporary classical Visions Within (Robert Lepley – EarthBeat Records), Heirs to Jobim (BMG Records), Don Sebesky’s, I Remember Bill (BMG), Jim Hall’s By Arrangement (Telarc), A Love Affair – the Music of Ivan Lins (TELARC), Louisiana Purchase (DRG), and many more. They have had the pleasure of performing with a number of influential jazz artists including Ray Brown, Bobby McFerrin, Nancy Wilson, The Count Basie Orchestra, George Benson, Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, The Manhattan Transfer, the Boston Pops, The Metropole Orchestra, Ivan Lins, Paquito D’Rivera, Bob Dorough and many more.
In early 1997 they traveled down a different road, paying tribute to Paul Simon with New York Voices Sing the Songs of Paul Simon. They explored a variety of styles to express new turns on this singer/songwriter’s rich songbook. All Music Guide said, “The arrangements are brighter and brassier than Simon’s originals, but there’s a real charm to the performances that makes it a thoroughly entertaining experience.”
In 2001, New York Voices released their sixth CD, Sing! Sing! Sing!. After many years of performing with the Count Basie Orchestra, the group wanted to address the great Big Band songbook and offer their own spin. With Darmon doing the lion’s share of the vocal and big band arrangements, they hired the producing talents of Elliot Scheiner (Manhattan Transfer, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac) to capture the music and mix it with his exquisite precision and care. As reviewed by Don Heckman of the LA Times, “The title track quickly lays down what to expect from the balance of the program: complex, interwoven vocal lines, interactive improvising and brisk ensemble accompaniment. And revivalist swing fans — both players and listeners — would do well to check out the Voices’ capacity to bring a contemporary quality to classic material without sacrificing the essence of either.”
In the last decade, the pops symphony community has called upon them to develop various programs. The Boston Pops knocked first and commissioned a few big band style adaptations. Then a baby boomer show followed that toured extensively in 2003. Finally, the Boston Pops got the holiday program started in 2005, and the rest is history. NYV has added to all these programs over the years allowing them to dive into the gorgeous landscape of symphonic settings and build a new following of music appreciators. Janelle Gelfand of The Cincinnati Enquirer said, “The group’s incomparable blend, hip delivery and great arrangements resulted in one swinging party. Their four-part harmonizing was so close, it was hard to tell where one voice ended and another began.”
2007 marked the release of their seventh studio CD, A Day Like This. They went back to their roots of mixing things up; Brazilian influences, swinging trio numbers and a couple big band romps. They also included a handful of original songs from the members, which has always been a strong suit for this multi-talented ensemble. All About Jazz LA said, “a sumptuous collection of vocal harmonic heaven… the vocals are a Whitman’s Sampler of various flavors and tastes, richer than a dark chocolate bon bon.”
NYV has traveled the globe with their elegant music, amazing audiences the world over with their impeccable voices and stunning arrangements. “Live, they’re just as impressive to witness,” says Mathew Lurrie of Time Out Chicago. “We dare say there may be no better way to understand the wit and wink of jazz harmony than via these Voices.”
Along with their extensive concert performances and recording schedules, NYV also works in the field of education, giving workshops and clinics to high school and college music students throughout the world. In 2009, they opened the New York Voices Bowling Green State University Vocal Jazz Camp. It is a wildly successful venture that admits students from all over the world at different ages and stages in their musical lives. NYV have cultivated their brand of teaching, creating a roster of classes that students select from while also participating in one of four levels of jazz choirs and the all camp piece. It is a six-day summer event that is instructive while also being personal and nurture based.