« Just The Tonic | Main | King's College choir brings light, heat to cold night »

December 14, 2004

New York Voices singer Kinhan takes fling back home

The Oregonian (OR):

"When I was a teenager," says Lauren Kinhan of the vocal jazz group New York Voices, "I remember waiting in the restaurant side of the Jazz Quarry" -- where minors were allowed in the bar only to perform -- "with Chris Botti to sit in with the band." Now, 20 years later, Kinhan and Botti have gone on to successful careers in New York, where the singer has shared Grammy awards with the New York Voices, and Smooth Jazz trumpeter Botti has recently received celebrity attention for his liaison with TV personality Katie Couric.

That early bandstand training was the key to her future, Kinhan says by telephone from New York, where she's anticipating a return to her hometown for a solo show Tuesday at The Blue Monk. "That was one of my most profound experiences. Even though I'd make a fool of myself, Ron Steen and Eddie Wied and the other guys allowed me to try, and they were really good musicians. It taught me how much I love the art form and simply letting your hair down and trying to have a spontaneous musical experience. I'm addicted to that." In her solo efforts, though, Kinhan, 40, has moved away from the straightahead jazz she learned in Portland. Her '99 solo debut, for instance, "Hardly Blinking," found the Aloha High School grad working territory closer to Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt. Oddly enough, it was the legendary avant-garde pioneer Ornette Coleman who inspired Kinhan to pursue that pop sound.

"I'd put my solo work away and New York Voices became my primary job," she says, recalling the time in 1997 when she sang on the Coleman CD, "Sound Museum, Three Women." "I remember him sitting for hours with me in a practice room, teaching me this song. . . . He told me, 'You need to go and do your work, you have to go back to what's in you and do it.' So it was goodbye harsh dissonance and hello sweet harmonies. "Shortly after that, I put together a show of my original material at The Bitter End," she adds, "and sitting in one booth was Ornette, and in the other was (producer and punk rocker) Phil Ramone. It was like a scene from a movie. Phil signed me to a record deal the next day."

Now Kinhan's got a new CD in the works. While still featuring her pop-oriented compositions, it reveals different colors in her voice and a wider range of styles with Brazilian, swing and blues tunes. "This next recording will solidify my vision as an artist," she says. "Since 'Hardly Blinking,' I've become a mother, and how that informs your artistry is enormous." Her new vision includes the West Coast, and her Portland show is a step toward establishing a presence out here. "It's a new beginning for me," she says. Kinhan's partner in New York Voices, pianist and singer Peter Eldridge, will play the first set as well as take the piano chair in Kinhan's trio. The full New York Voices will perform Wednesday at the McMinnville Community Center.

Posted by acapnews at December 14, 2004 12:34 AM