Madison Music Collective
“Perhaps the best jazz singer alive today is a woman almost everybody seems to have missed. Her name is Mary Stallings.” So said the New York Times reviewer upon release of Ms. Stallings’ CD, “Live at the Village Vanguard.” Fresh off her magnificent performance in Prague for the late Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel, and through a new partnership between Madison Music Collective and the Wisconsin Union Theater, the great jazz vocalist Mary Stallings is coming to Madison to headline the 2012 Isthmus Jazz Festival. A tremendous opportunity for local music fans, Ms. Stallings will give a free concert at the Union Theater on Saturday, June 2nd, starting at 8:00 PM, in what will be the Theater’s final program before closing for major renovations.
It took nearly 20 years, and a call from Dizzy Gillespie inviting her to perform on his South American tour, to lure Ms. Stallings back onto the jazz scene. Through all the ups and downs, though, Ms. Stallings never lost confidence in her own abilities and now, at age 72, she is at the peak of her musical powers and in the midst of a major career revival. In recent years, she has performed at leading venues like the Monterey, San Francisco Jazz Festivals, the Chivas Jazz Festival in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and at Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Blue Note in New York City. Her December 2011 memorial concert for President Havel made her the first jazz artist to ever perform at the Prague National Theater, a hallowed home of classical music.
Since returning to the business in the 1990s, Ms. Stallings has recorded 10 CDs as a leader, including her Geri Allen-produced CD, “Remember Me” (2005), and her latest, “Don’t Look Back” (2012). Her repertoire includes standards from the worlds of jazz and the Great American Songbook mixed in with the music of younger songwriters. Says Ms. Allen, the great jazz pianist who performed in Madisonin 2010 with the Mary Lou Williams Collective, “Her voice is rich with the integrity that comes from a true and honored place in this music.”
Young lion jazz pianist Eric Reed, who performs on “Dream” and “Don’t Look Back,” says that “Stallings interprets lyrics with the ease of someone who has lived a full life with few regrets and deep passion for what’s ahead … Rarely does one encounter a singer who is so genuinely musical, so soundly in the moment.” He goes on to say, “if you want to talk about jazz, the subtleties and the intricacies, the storytelling and the harmonies, there isn’t a woman alive who sings better.”
For more about Mary Stallings:
http://jazztimes.com/articles/26803-mary-stallings-the-best-kept-secret-in-vocal-jazzFor a complete schedule of this year’s Isthmus Jazz Festival, visit http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=36447.