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Before & After: Laurin Talese

The vocalist reaches for a new kind of sassy

Laurin Talese (photo: Adachi Pimentel)
Laurin Talese (photo: Adachi Pimentel)

Laurin Talese arrived in Philadelphia right around the turn of the millennium, as the neo-soul movement was reaching critical mass in the city. The scene added one more element to her already versatile voice, which had been honed through both classical training and the testing ground of the church in her native Cleveland. While studying at Philly’s University of the Arts she made connections that have led her to tours with the likes of Vivian Green and Bilal, as well as introducing her to her bassist and music director, Adam Blackstone. Along with drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., Blackstone co-produced Talese’s 2016 debut, Gorgeous Chaos.

Two years later Talese won the seventh annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, an especially meaningful honor given her reverence for the iconic singer. In the midst of running last-minute errands the day before embarking on a State Department-sponsored tour of Montenegro, Ukraine, and Poland, Talese sat down outside a scenic (yet, sadly, closed) café nestled in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park for this listening session.

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Shaun Brady

Shaun Brady is a Philadelphia-based journalist who covers jazz along with an eclectic array of arts, culture, and travel. Brady contributes regularly to the Philadelphia Inquirer and JazzTimes and Jazziz magazines, with subjects ranging from legendary artists to underground experimentalists. His byline has appeared in DownBeat, Metro, NPR Music, and The A.V. Club, among other outlets. He studied filmmaking at Columbia College Chicago and continues to spend too much time in the dark.