SongSuite Festival June 27th-29th 2014

Anita Wardell and Loiremusic present the third editon of the Songsuite Vocal Festival. This exciting festival feature an impressive line-up of UK and international vocal artists covering Jazz, Latin and Folk idioms. The Festival includes a range of Vocal workshops featuring the festival artists.

All concerts take place in the intimate setting of The Pheasantry, 152 Kings Road, London SW3 4UT (10 mins walk from Sloane Square Tube). Tickets (£15) are available now from www.pizzaexpresslive.com or by phone on 0845 602 7017.

All workshop info and bookings at www.loiremusic.com.

Album review – The Road

from The Art of the Torch Singer

For every Jamie Cullum there are a dozen highly talented British jazz singers who beaver away on the circuit to the delight of the cognoscenti, making critically acclaimed albums and commanding the respect of their peers without the benefit of a profile that might bring a wider audience to hear them.

Anita Wardell is a case in point. With a career dating back to the 1990s, she has enjoyed more than two decades of success. Last year, she was pronounced Best Jazz Vocalist at the British Jazz Awards, leading a shortlist that indicated the sheer depth of talent in this diverse field (Claire Martin, Liane Carroll, Val Wiseman and Clare Teal).

She has earned an international reputation for the scat-singing which has become her trademark, as well as the sensitivity with which she handles ballads and standards, discovering fresh nuances in familiar lines with the lightness and flexibility of her touch. She is one of the most innovative performers on the scene, but she could probably stroll through the Soho heartland of London jazz unrecognised.

Perhaps she’s happy with that. But given the quality of her recent album The Road, it seems a crime that her name isn’t more widely known beyond the glass walls of the jazz world. And I say that as someone who isn’t the greatest fan of scatting. But only a tin ear could fail to appreciate her musicality and subtlety in this department – by no means the only skill on show on this exciting record.

Belying the rather bleak and wintry scene on the album’s cover, The Road ripples like a sophisticated summer evening, particularly in Wardell’s nimble treatment of Frevo em Maceio and Voca e eu, both redolent of warm Brazilian nights, and her distinctive handling of an old favourite, Surrey With the Fringe on Top.

A Pat Metheny/Lyle Mays mash-up of Travels and The Road, with Wardell’s own lyrics, sets the scene for a journey across some nicely-chosen terrain, which includes a sensuous You’re My Thrill, Stevie Wonder’s Superwoman and a thrilling take on Without a Song.

The highlight of the album is With Every Breath I Take, which Wardell turns into an elegant, thoughtful torch song. The way she holds the note on the word ‘break’ is a lesson in the virtue of restraint over grandstanding vocal gymnastics.

Meet Anita Wardell

Article by Thomas Cunniffe, jazzhistoryonline.com

The distance between London and New York is just over 3400 miles, and traveling that distance by air takes about 6 hours. It’s not cheap to fly across the Atlantic (although that may change in the coming months), but it is an essential trip for jazz musicians to make if they want the benefits of worldwide fame. American musicians have long known that European jazz audiences are generally more appreciative than domestic crowds, and European musicians realize that their fame can grow exponentially when heard by the right American ears.

Consider jazz in London. The UK’s capital has a thriving jazz scene, but there are many worthy English jazz musicians who are virtually unknown on this side of the Atlantic. For every Cleo Laine or Tubby Hayes that has achieved success in America, there are several worthy musicians who aren’t well-known because they haven’t toured or recorded in the US. One of those worthy musicians is vocalist Anita Wardell.

Best known as an outstanding scat singer, she is also a skilled writer and performer of vocalese, and a sensitive interpreter of standards and jazz originals. She’s collected several awards, including a recent prize for Best Jazz Vocalist from the British Jazz Awards, and her artistry has inspired accolades from fellow singers like Mark Murphy, Roseanna Vitro and Kate McGarry. Yet, up until now, Wardell’s albums have only been available as high-priced imports, and she has made limited trips to the east and west coasts of the United States…

Read the full article on jazzhistoryonline.com

British Jazz Awards 2013

Anita's been voted a British Jazz Award Winner 2013 for Best Vocalist. Many thanks to everyone that voted!

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