Jazz vocalist Jackie Allen releases new album

2014-05-07T08:00:00Z 2014-05-07T15:36:40Z Jazz vocalist Jackie Allen releases new albumBy JEFF KORBELIK / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Five years ago, Jackie Allen planned to record a live performance at a performing arts center in Muncie, Ind.

Then came a bad case of laryngitis prior to the concert.

The jazz vocalist, who now calls Lincoln home, still performed (and recorded) the concert, but her voice was nothing more than a throaty whisper.

“It was just awful,” she said.

Fortunately, she had asked her band and sound engineer to record the instrumentals live on stage without her during the soundcheck.

“It wasn’t until we moved here that I went back to listen to them,” said Allen, who came to Lincoln a few years ago with her husband, Hans Sturm, who was hired by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as its double bass professor. “They had done multiple takes of each track, and they sounded fantastic.”

So much so, Allen decided to lay down vocals to the instrumentals with the help of Lincoln musician/music producer Tom Larson. The result is “My Favorite Color,” Allen’s first album in five years and her first studio album since 2006. It’s set for release Tuesday.

The release features two originals -- “Diana” and “Call Me Winter” -- and eight standards or covers, ranging from Joe Zawinul’s “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” to Gershwin’s “My Man’s Gone” to Stealers Wheel 1972 hit “Stuck in the Middle With You.”

“Call Me Winter” includes lyrics co-written by the late Illinois Poet Laureate GE Murray.

Recording vocals separate from the instrumentals was new to Allen. The process is fairly standard with pop singers, but not so much with jazz vocalists.

“In the jazz world, you want to interact live in the studio (with the other musicians),” she said.

She credits Larson for helping her pull this off. The release features Sturm, John Moulder (guitar), Ben Lewis (keyboards), Dane Richeson (percussion) and guests Tito Carillo (trumpet) and Steve Eisen (saxophone and flute).

“He created the same ambiance in the room,” she said. “You can’t tell that I’m not in the hall with those guys at that moment.”

Allen’s music dates back to the late 1980s when she lived in Milwaukee, where she worked with organist Melvin Rhyne of the Wes Montgomery Trio for four years before moving to Chicago. There her career took off. She released CDs for independent and major labels, including Lake Shore Jazz, Naxos Jazz, A440, Red Mark and Blue Note Records. She recorded her last release, “Starry Night” (2009), live with a chamber orchestra.

For the cover of her new album, Allen posed in a gorgeous green dress on a green lawn at the former home of Alice Abel on Sheridan Boulevard. She found the dress at a thrift store and has worn it to performances by the students in her Torch Club classes.

“My Favorite Color” can be purchased through Amazon, iTunes and CDBaby. Her CD release party is set for July 17 at the Zoo Bar. You also can hear her sing June 5 at Stransky Park and at the Side Door in Omaha on July 18.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7213 or jkorbelik@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSjeffkorbelik.

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