Monday, May 18, 2009

RISING STAR

Dear Grace,

My name is Charles Latimer. I’m a jazz journalist. I published this jazz blog. I live in Harper Woods, Mi, a small community east of Detroit. I discovered your music last year when Pazz Productions mailed me a copy of “Gracefullee”, the stellar album you made with your mentor alto saxophonist Lee Konitz. The album was one of my favorites of 2008. I was awed. I wondered how such a young person could emote with such depth and feeling.

With that released, you set the bar high. I told a friend it would probably take a decade or so before you could top that album. I was wrong. Last month, I received an advance copy of your new album “Mood Changes”. I’ve invested many man-hours listening and dissecting this album. It’s better than “Gracefullee.

“Mood Changes”, what an appropriated title because the album shows you in many incarnations. It shows you as a writer (four songs on the album you wrote). It shows you're damn good vocalist. I didn’t know you could sing. When I listened to “Comes Love” and “But Life Goes On”, I was shocked how mature you sound. If I wasn’t already hip to your record of accomplishments prior to listening to this album, no one could’ve convinced me you’re just a teenager.

-You have what mystics and spiritualists call an old soul. Grace, that simply means you’ve lived many lives. I don’t want to get too profound or scare you by talking like some nutcase. I ‘m trying to says you definitely have something specials. You’re just a young woman. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and pianist Hank Jones have endorsed you. That alone should be enough to motivate my readers to buy a copy of "Mood Changes".

On “Gracefullee”, you hired guitarist Russell Malone and bassist Rufus Reid. They are A-list players, and you sound just as seasoned as they did. After I listened to “Gracefullee”, I became a fan. You appear to be a serious young woman. Do you travel with a tutor like other child stars? It’s probably tough finding time to study when you’re so busy composing and touring. What kind of stuff do you enjoy when you have downtime?

I wonder if you frequent the shopping malls with friends. You’re probably too busy touring to hang out with your friends. Before I started writing this letter, I took a gander at your website. You’re booked solid for the remainder of 2009. It would be a treat if you stopped by Detroit. Have you every played the Motor City? Detroit is a jazz Mecca. Many renowned jazz musicians got their start here. You’d like playing in Detroit. We have our big jazz fest coming up in three months. You’d have a ball playing Orchestra Hall or Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The jazz fans there are hip. They’d appreciate good jazz music.

Reading your website, I discovered you released your first album as a leader when you’re 12-year-old. I wondered if that’s a world record. Grace, I apologize for rambling. I want you to know how much I love “Mood Changes”. It’s a perfect jazz album from start to finish. I liked your originals “Happy Theme Song”, “Tender Madness” and “But Life Goes On”.

Your blowing is on par with some of the great alto saxophonists such Jackie McLean, Julian “Cannonball” Adderly, and of course Lee Konitz. I implore my readers to buy “Mood Changes”, and if they enjoy it encourage their friends buy the album.

Grace, I’m amazed you play with such facility and emotion. I’m definitely looking forward to watching you grow as a composer, a vocalist, and a saxophonist. You have to stop by Detroit someday. The jazz folks here are welcoming. They would treat you like royalty.

Continue to swing,
Charles
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