Thu March 10, 2011
Patti Austin's tribute to Ella
Vocalist to perform Ella Fitzgerald tribute with Omaha Symphony this weekend.
By Chris Cooke
If you are only familiar with Patti Austin's R & B credentials you may not believe she is performing a tribute to Jazz vocal icon Ella Fitzgerald.
But listening is believing.
This weekend Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Patti Austin presents a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald with her jazz combo, and the full Omaha Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Wilkins, conducting, at the Holland Performing Arts Center. Patti Austin: The Ella Fitzgerald Songbook features Austin performing Fitzgerald's most beloved standards?from "Our Love Is Here To Stay" to "The Man I Love" , and many more.
Austin's critically acclaimed and Grammy-nominated tribute album, For Ella, released in 2002, presented many of these songs.
While Austin does not claim Ella Fitzgerald directly influenced her own vocal development, clearly she is up to the task of interpreting the legacy of one of the foremost jazz icons. Patti Austin is one of the most successful vocal artists of the last 40 years. The daughter of a jazz trombonist and goddaughter of musical legends Quincy Jones and Dinah Washington, Patti Austin made her stage debut with Dinah Washington at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. As an artist on CTI records and the most in demand female voice on the New York jingle session scene in the 1970s, Patti Austin's vocal talents were in the soundtrack of hundreds of commercials. She supported artists such as Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, and Joe Cocker to Bette Midler, Roberta Flack, and Diana Ross.
The following decade saw Austin's career taking off with an appearance on Quincy Jones's best-selling album Stuff Like That and the Grammy-winning classic The Dude. Austin's debut album followed which included a megahit with fellow vocalist James Ingram, "Baby Come To Me". The two vocalists recorded another session which resulted in "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?"
Later in the 1980s Patti Austin released The Real Me. One of the most loved records in her career, the disc presented a powerful collection of pop and jazz standards including "Cry Me A River," "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "Mood Indigo." In 1991 Austin's Carry On, Love is Gonna Getcha included the crossover hit "Through the Test of Time".
The last decade has seen Patti Austin explore jazz directions. For Ella, a critically acclaimed and Grammy-nominated tribute to the legendary Ella Fitzgerald with the WDR Big Band in Cologne, was a 2002 release that announced her ability to perform music associated with Ella with total self-assurance.
Austin is also a music educator and has co-created the musical extravaganza "Beboperella," a modern-day, music-driven show that brings the sound and spirit of bebop to a new generation. One of her students in recent years was Esperanza Spalding.
Performances of Patti Austin: The Ella Fitzgerald Songbook will take place: Friday, March 11 at 8 p.m. & Saturday, March 12 at 8 p.m. & Sunday, March 13 at 2 p.m. at the Holland Performing Arts Center. More information is available at http://www.omahasymphony.org
Recording engineer: Mike Hansen/KIOS.
Chris Cooke is the host of Jazz in the Afternoon Tuesdays and Thursdays on KIOS-FM.