Wednesday, April 11th, 2007
From the first notes that Sara Jones sings on her debut CD, Daydream A Little, it is obvious that a bright new vocalist is already making her mark on the music world. Her voice is very appealing, inviting and youthful. She revitalizes "The Girl From Ipanema" in a version that owes little to Astrud Gilberto, she swings, and her rendition is full of joy. In fact, one can easily imagine and even hear her smiling through her music.
The same qualities are heard throughout Daydream A Little, a mixture of jazz and Brazilian standards that also includes a few superior pop songs. Teamed with guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist-producer Paul Langosch, and the members of Trio da Paz, Sara Jones' debut is memorable, musical and infectious.
Born in Thailand and raised on the Eastern shore of Maryland, she began performing music as a pianist. "My Mom, grandmother and great aunt played piano so there was always a piano in the house," remembers Sara. "I caught the bug when I was five. Although I mostly played classical music, I also listened to a lot of my grandparents' records and tapes of big bands." Sara did not start singing seriously until she was in high school, winning a part in the musical Anything Goes where she enjoying performing Cole Porter's music for five months.
Despite that, Sara entered college with the goal of becoming a classical pianist. She earned a Bachelors of Arts in Music from St. Mary's College of Maryland and a Masters of Music in Piano Accompanying from the University of Cincinnati College's Conservatory of Music. "Although I enjoyed the opera arias and art songs that I performed, in addition to studying languages, I realized in graduate school that this was not what I really wanted to do." She heard from a friend about an opening in the U.S. Army Field Band Soldier's Chorus, passed the audition and spent six years in the Army. She loved the experience, visiting 49 states (all but Hawaii) with one of the military's premiere bands, giving concerts for the civilian public while representing the American soldier through music.
While in the Army, Sara entered and won the Billie Holiday Vocal Competition. "That gave me the confidence I needed and the desire to go beyond the contest and pursue jazz." After she left the Army in the fall of 2007, Sara quickly lined up a series of singing jobs in the Baltimore area, becoming an important part of the local scene. She recorded "Skylark" and a vocalese piece with the Young Brothers on their Tales Of Time CD and gained experience performing as often as possible.
Sara was fortunate to meet Paul Langosch, best known for being Tony Bennett's bassist. "Whenever he was in town, I would hire him for gigs. After a time, he said that I should really have a recording. After I agreed, he said that he had produced a few albums and that, whenever I was ready, he would work with me." Daydream A Little is the result of their collaboration. One of the major Brazilian jazz groups, Trio da Paz (guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Nilson Matta and drummer-percussionist Duduka de Fonseca), joins Sara on most of the selections with Paul Langosch in Matta's place on five numbers. "Autumn Leaves" and "Mona Lisa" are heartfelt duets by the singer with Lubambo. In addition, trumpet player Kevin Watt of the U.S Army Jazz Ambassadors plays some tasteful flugelhorn on a few of the performances. Other highlights among the 14 songs include "Aquarela do Brasil," "I'll Take Romance," Janis Ian's "At Seventeen" and "No More Blues," but each rendition has its special moments. Although the CD includes a lot of different moods, the music is consistently romantic and displays the singer's voice singing at its best.
Sara Jones looks forward to the future with enthusiasm. "I really love planning programs that both diehard jazz fans and newcomers will equally enjoy. I always tell people that if they attend my shows, I swear that they'll have a good time!" On evidence of the performances recorded on Daydream A Little, that is a sure bet.