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Jackie Allen



Tenth Overall Recording and First Studio Album in 8 Years

Set For Release May 13, 2014

“Her gift is utterly distinctive and even innovative … a masterpiece.

It’s revelatory and sounds effortless.” (Billboard)

Long known for the enticing smoky quality of her voice and the natural sincerity of her interpretations, My Favorite Color is Jackie’s long anticipated follow-up studio release to her 2006 Blue Note recording Tangled.

My Favorite Color features two originals and eight standards, reaching from the thirties into the seventies. Harold Arlen and Truman Capote’s “Sleepin’ Bee” swings on tiptoe, replete with its verse and a perfectly melodic Ben Lewis piano solo. An organ and horn infused romp propels Joe Zawinul’s “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” into a hip soul frenzy. Jackie’s arrangement of Gershwin’s “My Man’s Gone Now” is reimagined as a dramatic modal voyage, featuring an eloquent bowed bass solo by Hans Sturm and a stirring John Moulder electric guitar solo. In classic ballad style, Oscar Levant and Mark Heyman’s “Blame It On My Youth” opens with a goregous extended acoustic guitar introduction that folds gently into Jackie’s profoundly sincere and wistful reading. Hendrix’ “Manic Depression” conjures up Bitches Brew with a Miles-esque muted horn solo by Tito Carillo jousting with Ben Lewis’ organ jabs and Jackie’s Dante’s Inferno scatting.

Steeler’s Wheel 1972 hit “Stuck In The Middle With You” (Rafferty/Egan) is treated to a groove influenced by Horace Silver’s funky hard-bop masterpiece Jody Grind. Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s poignant “A House Is Not A Home” is transformed into a nuanced waltz and re-harmonized by pianist Ben Lewis. Diana (Allen/Schiffman) is an original sweeping waltz, expressing the regrets of trading a free spirited bohemian life for corporate security. Stripping down the harmony of Mel Torme and Robert Well’s “Born To Be Blue,” Jackie’s bareboned arrangement magnifies the despair of the lyric. The disc closes with Jackie’s “Call Me Winter.” The beautiful abstract lyrics were composed with lines shared by the late Illinois Poet Laureate, GE Murray. “If you don’t know where you are, you’ve arrived.”

Allen’s voice is both crystalline and soulful.

This is four-hundred-dollar-a-bottle jazz, no cheap imitation. (Rolling Stone)

In the late 80s, Jackie lived in Milwaukee where she worked with organist Melvin Rhyne (Wes Montgomery Trio) for four years before moving to Chicago. There her career blossomed and she released CDs for independent and major labels including Lake Shore Jazz, Naxos Jazz, A440, Red Mark, and Blue Note Records. Jackie recorded three critically acclaimed CDs for A440 and Blue Note: The Men In My Life (2003), Love Is Blue (2004) and Tangled (2006). Her last release, Starry Night (2009), was recorded live with chamber orchestra and features star-themed songs penned by arrangers who have written for such legends and noted artists as Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Doc Severinsen, and Bobby McFerrin.

My Favorite Color was originally intended to be a live recording, but the day before the concert Jackie came down with a rare case of laryngitis. “Fortunately the band and recording engineer were already in town and we decided to record all the instrumental tracks live on stage during our sound check just in case my voice didn’t improve. I managed to get through the concert but the concert recording was useless since my voice was a mess.” The instrumental tracks were left untouched for several years until they were discovered on a hard drive after a move. There were multiple takes of each song beautifully recorded by Steve Weeder and Jackie began working with Tom Larson to lay down the vocal tracks over the best of the instrumental tracks. “I had to anticipate the band, when normally we interact live in the moment, which was a real challenge.” Upon hearing Jackie’s version of “Blame It On My Youth” for the first time, multiple Grammy winning mastering engineer Alan Silverman remarked, “That was the most beautiful recording of that tune I’ve ever heard – and I recorded Dory Previn singing that in the 60’s.”

It may not be easy bein’ green, but Jackie makes the wait well worth it.

Jackie Allen has been singing jazz in Chicago since 1992 and has ten CDs to her credit. With Starry Night (2009), Jackie Allen celebrated her ninth release; a live recording with orchestra featuring star-themed songs arranged expressly for her by seven gifted professionals who have written for such luminaries as Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Doc Severinsen, Bobby McFerrin and Diana Krall. Deftly accompanied by the Muncie Symphony Orchestra and her combo, Jackie’s performances are, in the words of jazz icon Fred Sturm, “artistic, elegant, passionate, and thoroughly engaging.”

She became a Blue Note Artist with the release of Tangled (2006) that was called “Exquiste” by the Capitol Times. Love is Blue (2004) reached number eight nationally in airplay and the top fifteen on the Billboard charts. The Jazz Times Magazine said of The Men in My Life (2003), a tribute to male influences from Sinatra to Sting, “There’s only one word to describe it: Wow!” She recorded two duet CDs with legendary pianist/vocalist Judy Roberts and what Jazz News called “daring, sensuous, striking”, a duet CD with bassist Hans Sturm. With Grammy winning producer, Ralph Jungheim, Jackie recorded Which?, arranged by pianist Bill Cunliffe, Thelonius Monk Competition winner. Her debut, self-produced album, Never Let Me Go (1994), remained on the national charts for 13 weeks.

Jackie has appeared as a featured performer at many of the most famous U.S. jazz clubs including the Blue Note and Joe’s Pub (NYC), Yoshi’s (San Francisco), Catalina’s (Los Angeles), the Dakota (Minneapolis), and the Jazz Showcase and Green Mill (Chicago). She has appeared at the Detroit, Ravinia and Chicago Jazz Festivals and at Millennium Park with the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic.

Internationally, Allen has appeared at the North Sea Jazz Festival (Holland), Thessaloniki Jazz Festival (Greece), In Paris at Chatalet Hall (France), Bejing Music Festival (China) and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Scotland) and Brazil with her voice/bass duo. Allen currently teaches at Roosevelt University in Chicago and has held teaching posts at the Wisconsin Conservatory in Milwaukee, Elmhurst College and The Old Town School of Folk Music. Allen co-produced and starred in the sold-out benefit show, “America 1941,” with actor John Mahoney. She has served multiple terms as a board of governors for the Recording Academy (Grammy Awards).