Thursday, November 21, 2013


With rich and sumptuous vocals, award winning jazz vocalist Shirley Crabbe fronts a band of stellar musicians. The music is swinging, sophisticated, always up lifting, and overflowing with soul on her current CD “Home”. Featuring Crabbe with Donald Vega, Jim West, John Burr, Alvester Garnett, Brandon Lee, Dave Glasser, Matt Haviland and Special Guest Houston Person.

New York City ~ Shirley Crabbe’s debut album “Home” announces the arrival of a major new artist who invests love and conviction in every note as someone deeply grateful to be pursuing her calling.  Being given a ‘second chance’ at her first love after a bout with surgery on her vocal chords she considers herself blessed receiving a series of awards that placed her in the top five at the 2010 Jazz Mobile “Best of The Best” vocal competition.
“I love the American Songbook,” Crabbe says. “It’s so hard to find things that everybody hasn’t done already, but there are treasures out there if you look beyond the usual jazz sources.”  Possessing a voice as rich and plush as any singer on the scene concentrating on rendering each melody with precision and care adding some skilled ‘scat lines’ in her performances.

Crabbe casts a wide net when it comes to undiscovered treasures. From the album’s title track “The Wi” to McCoy Tyner’s “You Taught My Heart to Sing,” and Roland Hanna’s “Seasons,” a tune he wrote for Sarah Vaughan’s classic 1982 album “Crazy And Mixed Up.”  Turning Carole King’s “So Far Away” into an ache-filled lament while making Stephen Sondheim’s “Not While I’m Around” a tender jazz interpretation that would be chilling in its original “Sweeny Todd” context.   She isn’t afraid to tackle some well-worn standards. She effortlessly navigates trombonist Matt Haviland’s brisk and sassy arrangement of “Detour Ahead,” while transforming the lullaby “Summertime” into a rousing, wake-the-baby West African polyrhythmic celebration.

While “I always feel I’m just a singer that likes to sing jazz, more than a jazz vocalist,” Crabbe says. “I love singing classical music, when my whole body is resonating. Intellectually I love it, but with jazz I just feel like I’m free. I can rely on some technique, but I can forget it too, so it’s more about color, flexibility and musical ideas.”

“The Jazz Network Worldwide is happy to feature Shirley’s artistry to the jazz community and beyond.  You can feel her musicality, her style is clearly a strong force honoring the epic stylists of our time yet a unique originality embroiders her delivery in song” says Jaijai Jackson, creator of The Jazz Network Worldwide social network.

Finding the right accompanists has been an essential part of Crabbe’s creative process.  Pianist Donald Vega, Crabbe’s musical director and co-producer on “Home”  offered a steady stream of wise musical and career council throughout the project.  “He is a generous musician and a great advisor,” Crabbe says.   Drummer Alvester Garnett and veteran bassist John Burr provided the sophisticated and sensitive support in the rhythm section.

No doubt growing up in a Caribbean family surrounded by music and dance is what gave Shirley the musical heartbeat she exudes today. From being intrigued by Ella Fitzgerald as a teenager to exploring classic recordings by Carmen, Billie and Sarah, she attended workshops produced by Cobi Narita where she performed with Harold Mabern and Jamil Nasser and got positive encouragement and advice from Etta Jones and Dakota Staton.

Crabbe’s formal training focused on operatic technique and repertoire, but once she started studying voice at Northwestern University she joined a band with a jazzy R&B feel influenced by Steely Dan. Since regaining her voice, she appeared in “Coming to the Mercy Seat” at Shetler Studio’s Theater 54 and “Ain’t Misbehavin’” at the Elmwood Theater.

Always honing her craft and developing her approach, her debut CD “Home” makes a clear statement that Crabbe is one of today’s contemporaries. She’s an artist overflowing with soul who has found the ideal repertoire for expressing her gift.


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