Singer Amanda Carr is certainly what modern pop psychologists like to call a “multi-tasker.” During the day, she works in marketing for JT’s parent company Madavor Media (that’s what we call “full disclosure”) and at nights and weekends she plies her trade as one of Boston’s most accomplished jazz singers. On top of that, she’s created an organization, the American Big Band Preservation Society. No, we don’t know when she sleeps. And no joke here about it being at the day job.
Tonight, a wide-awake Carr will celebrate the release of her new CD Common Thread, which features the Kenny Hadley Big Band, with two shows at Scullers in Boston on Thursday, October 15. The CD is released on the OMS label. Carr told JT that, “So many big band records now, even with hefty budgets, have arrangements that sound like ‘knock offs’ of a Nelson Riddle chart. I find there’s not a lot of creativity when it comes to a singer/band record. The singer sounds like they’re in front and separated from the music much of the time. And the arrangements, although really nice, are very commercial and safe. I wanted to make a record that was like my small group records where the singer is part of the music and [where] the sound is organic and you can hear the personalities of the musicians in the playing. And the human element remains in the performance.”
For Carr working with a big band like Hadley’s was both a professional and a personal thrill. “I’ve been a fan of Hadley’s big band for decades and, even when I was singing in rock clubs, I would love to go and check out the fierceness and quality of his band. It was always a scene wherever the band played and the best players in the region seem to gravitate to his chairs. About eight years ago, I decided to get serious about my career and the jazz genre, so I approached Kenny and basically told him I need a mentor in this business. He has been my musical director ever since and now here we are: two small group records and one big band record later… and still growing strong. He has instilled in me a patience and discipline that this music requires… and that this business also requires. I’m smart enough to listen to his good advice.”
Carr’s late father was a big band musician of some note: trumpeter and vocalist Nick Capezuto, most known for his work with the Herb Pomeroy Band. He died earlier this year and Carr felt the loss particularly while recording this CD. “My Dad, had he lived just a few more months, would have totally dug the hang on the sessions and it pains me to think he didn’t get that opportunity. His buddy, Dave Chapman, came in to blow his killer sound and harness the saxes like he did on Herb’s Band in the 50’s and 60’s. I think he added a great deal to the sound of this record.”
Carr is so passionate about the legacy of big bands that she decided to create a not-for-profit organization to preserve charts and arrangements, the American Big Band Preservation Society. “We’re hoping to be a repository for these great works and keep the language alive by performing them and offering them up to be performed.” For her, the organization preserves for future generations the passion for big bands that she and her father shared. “This is my father’s legacy and that of many other arrangers and players who understand that arrangements only truly exist when they are played. It’s a living art form. Kids would be excited about playing this music if they could hear it. And they would understand how to interpret charts if they were taught. A 23 year old music ed graduate who gets handed a H.S. big band ensemble isn’t going to really draw from any experience or knowledge on how to teach their kids to play this stuff. So, the ABBPS is doing master classes, band camps and performances to assist with curriculums that need help and create opportunities in schools where there are no existing curriculums.” The organization is still in its early stages, but Carr has big plans for both acquisition and outreach. And, in the meantime, she will be demonstrating that love for the big band tradition by performing her own music with Hadley’s group.
Shows are at 8 and 10 PM, though the 8 PM show is already sold out. For more information, go to Scullers web site.