About Lisa B CDs and Books Gigs and Workshops
Press and Quotes Radio Contact Lisa B
Thursday, February 21st, 2013 1:09 AM PST

                Jazz & Beyond
                    Spoken Word & Song
Sunday, October 25th, 2009 9:46 PM PDT
                    BIO FOR LISA B (LISA BERNSTEIN)
LISA B (LISA BERNSTEIN) IS A JAZZ VOCALIST, SONGWRITER, AND POET with a voice that listeners and critics have called beautiful, dexterous, and sultry.
She is known for her original compositions as well as her adventurously reimagined standards. These often incorporate the unique element of her original spoken verse.
LISA B HAS PERFORMED AT MORE THAN 90 VENUES in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere.
HER SIX FULL-LENGTH CDS received radio play and charting on hundreds of trade-reporter stations. They also garnered great reviews in Jazz Times, Jazziz, All About Jazz, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and many other publications.
HER LATEST ALBUM, “I GET A KICK: COLE PORTER REIMAGINED,” was released January 2018 on the esteemed Jazzed Media label, home of such Grammy nominees as Phil Woods and Lorraine Feather, and received widespread radio play, including #1 and Top 10 rotation, and excellent reviews.
I Am an Orchestra: A Tribute to Cecil Taylor by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)I AM AN ORCHESTRA: A TRIBUTE TO CECIL TAYLOR,” was released as a digital single March 29, 2019 to honor the first anniversary of the legendary pianist’s passing. It both stands alone and is the first taste of Lisa B’s forthcoming album, “Reverberant: Poems & Music,” which is scheduled for an October 2019 release.
The new work marks a departure from her previous six records, presenting free-verse poems with occasional singing, in dynamic compositions created with a diverse cast of musicians. Help fund the new record's completion through a tax-deductible donation!
FORTHCOMING 10/19: “Reverberant: Poems & Music”
“I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined” (Jazzed Media 2018) 
“Christmas Time Is Here (and Chanukah and the Solstice)”
(Piece of Pie Records 2011)
“The Poetry of Groove” (Piece of Pie Records 2009)
“What's New, Pussycat?: Tunes & Tales About Cool Cats”
(Piece of Pie Records 2006)
“Center of the Rhyme” (Piece of Pie Records 2003)
“Free Me for the Joy” (Piece of Pie Records 1999)

LISA B’S POEMS have appeared in more than 60 literary magazines and anthologies. Her poetry book “The Transparent Body” was published by the prestigious Wesleyan University Press, preceded by a chapbook from Five Fingers Poetry called “Anorexia.” She earned master's and bachelor's degrees in English literature/creative writing from San Francisco State and UC Santa Cruz, respectively.
SHE ALSO RECEIVED CREATIVE WRITING FELLOWSHIPS from the National Endowment for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, Ucross Foundation, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund/Money for Women, and Puffin Foundation.
Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein), poet and singerWHILE MOST OF LISA B'S VOCALIZING IS JAZZ SINGING, SHE OFTEN INTEGRATES SPOKEN VERSE INTO HER SONGS AND MUSIC—reflecting the influence of 1950s public poetry readings to jazz accompaniment, the biting rhythms of contemporary creative rap, and the poetic lyrics  of modern singer-songwriters. The result is genre-bending and multidimensional.
LISA B HAS TAUGHT MANY WORKSHOPS AND CLASSES on creating your own tribute project, mind-body-spirit tools for performers and creators, and creative writing at San Francisco State University, Foothill College, Skyline College, the Jazzschool (now California Jazz Conservatory), Blue Bear School of Music, various high schools and elementary schools, and privately. She served a two-year term as Associate Director of The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University.  
POETRY AND JAZZ HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A PART OF LISA B’S LIFE. Her mother wrote poetry, and her father was a serious aficionado of avant-garde jazz who counted among his friends a number of well-known jazz musicians. Jackie McLean was a close family friend, and Lisa B remembers sitting on Elvin Jones’ lap at a party at their family home.
As a child, Lisa B studied classical piano and was steeped in jazz—in particular, her parents’ favorites Carmen McRae and John Coltrane—as well as R&B and musical theater. But as an adult, her first forays into live performance were public readings of her own poetry.
As her poems began appearing in important literary journals, and a book of her work was published, Lisa B found that standing up alone before an audience with just her own words was powerful training in performance. Dedicating herself to the art of jazz singing—while still incorporating poetry into her show—was a natural progression.
So it’s no surprise that Lisa B lists as her key musical influences not only Coltrane and McRae, but also the bedrock of the Great American Songbook; vocal jazz pioneers Sheila Jordan, Jeanne Lee, and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross; melders of jazz, poetry, and soul Gil Scott-Heron and Jill Scott; and two who show us how to testify in both music and verse, Aretha Franklin and Allen Ginsberg.
A RESIDENT OF OAKLAND, CALIF., for more than two decades, Lisa B was nominated for a 2014 Oakland Indie Award. Her celebration of Oakland includes her music video “Holiday in Oakland,” which went viral locally. She is also active in her community, focusing on teaching poetry-writing and performance to young people through Parks & Recreation, the Boys & Girls Club, and public schools.
She works not only as a singer but also as a professional psychic.
         “With the freewheeling control of the raw materials that only the finest jazz practitioners possess, B takes possession of Cole Porter's witty, poignant stories... a true American original.”
        - Downbeat critic Ted Panken in his liner notes

“Bernstein reinterprets the Porter Songbook in such a way [as] to magnify the American Treasure that is these songs. The vocalist shows an acute attention to rhythm, tempo, and time. The result is “I Get a Kick Out of You” that sounds as if arranged by Ornette Coleman at the height of his powers.”
- Michael Bailey, All About Jazz

        “An extraordinary album that takes songs from the American songbook and adds bold poetry, an unexpected taste of rap, richly emotional singing, and exotic moods … a new standard for the 21st century.”
        - Hiroshi Ogawa, Jazz Life Japan

“B brings her poet’s incisive ear to uncover the roiling emotions beneath Porter’s glittering confections.”
- Andrew Gilbert, Berkeleyside

        “Great pipes...talented songwriter.”
        - Jazziz

“A singer, spoken-word artist and poet with an incisive way of chronicling situations, memories and emotions…a pliable, expressive voice dipped in blue.”
- Lucy Tauss, Jazz Times

        “She totally captivated the audience. She is an originator, her arrangements are mesmerizing, and her band is great!”
        - Gary Hamada, Jazz and Blues Company Concert Manager/KRML

“Daring, dexterous singer/songwriter/poet Lisa B...with appeal to both traditional and contemporary jazz tastes and even hip-hop hipsters.”
- Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News

         “Funky, fresh and sexy as all hell...seamless blending of jazz, hip-hop, soul, spoken word and popular music... One of the most daring and deft performers I've come across in a while.”
        - Jordan Richardson, Blogcritics and Canadian Audiophile

“It is her gift that she manages, through the extreme clarity of her images, always to engage us.”
- Booklist

         “Whatever she knows or sings comes, in Whitman's term, from the body electric.”
        – Francis Mayes, author of “Under the Tuscan Sun” and other books, review in San Jose Mercury News

“Her voice is a lovely instrument, her timbre warm, her phrasing fluid, her articulation pristine, and she possesses an emotional range that makes lyrics sound like truth. She sings like the dickens.”
- Ted Panken, from the liner notes for “Center of the Rhyme” jazz  critic for Downbeat, Jazziz, and more
Cover of Lisa B's "I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined"


According to Lisa B, “My five previous CDs were largely original music, and it was time to tackle the works of another songwriter. I was always drawn to Cole Porter’s writing, and I’ve been singing his tunes in my live performances for years.
In his lyrics and his shifting, major-to-minor harmonies, you can hear a dual nature. He was an outsider and a high-society partygoer, a gay man in a closeted era, a breezy wit perfectly crafting up-to-the-minute, amusing lyrics who could pivot to expressing powerful longing and sadness. I guess I’m attracted to these tensions — his suffering soul, and his charm.”
Lisa B chose to record ten songs Porter composed for stage and screen between 1929 and 1954. Although many jazz singers have sung and recorded Porter’s tunes, Lisa B set out to present them in adventurous ways while still hewing to the essences of the lyrics and music.
I GET A KICK: COLE PORTER REIMAGINED is stylistically diverse, offering a new arrangement of each song spanning bebop, beguine, bossa, ballads, sultry funk, and more. 
As for the lyrics, each tune includes almost all of Cole Porter’s words, from the introductory verses to the choruses to the once-censored parts. Plus, Lisa B adds her original improvised vocalese on two tracks and spoken word segments on three others.

James (Jim) Gardiner at Pajama Studios

It was important for Lisa B to work with musicians particularly attuned to lyrics and vocal performance, so she invited some of the top San Francisco Bay Area players with these affinities to join her.
Chief among them is JAMES GARDINER, who has garnered two Grammy nominations and 42 gold and platinum designations. Gardiner is Lisa B’s long-time collaborator, co-producer, co-arranger, and engineer, having worked with her on her five previous recordings.
The other musicians are Ben Flint and Frank Martin (keyboard), Fred Randolph and Troy Lampkins (bass), Jeff Marrs, Alan Hall, and Paul Van Wageningen (drums), Michael Zilber (tenor and soprano sax), and John Santos (percussion), all busy touring artists with international reputations.

Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) with mic
Lisa B opens the CD with “I Get a Kick Out of You,” accompanied by bass and drums only. Staying true to her vision, she adds a new dimension to the widely recorded tune not only via the spare uptempo arrangement but also by interspersing her original vocalese.
She moves to a snappy samba version of “Easy to Love” complete with all of Cole Porter’s pithy choruses.
Next, Lisa B prefaces a thoughtful version of “I Happen to Like New York” with her spoken sequence “Sonia & Solomon” about her immigrant grandparents who landed in the Big Apple in 1923.
The rarely recorded, dreamy waltz “Wake Up and Dream” follows (perhaps Porter’s gayest composition).
Next is an intense, erotic reading of “In the Still of the Night” with soprano sax and a rhythmic Randy Weston-inspired flavor.
An emotionally raw, musically stripped-down ballad rendition of “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” follows.
She performs “What Is This Thing Called Love?” as a beguine, inserting a spoken word section into the middle of the song in which she answers the question posed by the title.
The shimmering funk of “All of You” is followed by a yearning bossa treatment of “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.”  Closing the record is an exotic groove version of “Night and Day,” with Lisa's original spoken verse passages alternating with Cole Porter's masterful lyrics.

Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)

Lisa B cover shot for I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined
Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) nominated for 2014 Oakland Indie Award

Sign up for Lisa B's mailing list for record release news, gigs, and goodies!


Sunday, October 25th, 2009 9:43 PM PDT
VIDEOS! A Mix of Single-Photo Presentations, Slideshows, and Dynamic Footage




Thursday, May 22nd, 2008 3:15 AM PDT


I remain overwhelmed by gratitude to the following people, who ordered perks or donated money to crowdfund my 2018 record "I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined" (Jazzed Media). - Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)

A Fan

Aaron Arnold

Anna Holden

Anne M. Murphy

Anonymous (11)


Becky Wenger

Brent Sunderland

Carmela Rappazzo

Carmen Figueras

Catherine Debon

Cathy Puccinelli


Daria! Vocalist

David Barker

Deborah DeHoff

Debra J Davies

Dick Cluster


Eric C Nee

Evelyn Bernstein

Gina Atton Thomas

Happy Supporter

Heather Gardner

Helayne Waldman

Jean Ross

Jenifer Bacon

Jeremy D Crowe

Jerzy Chodak

John G Doran

John Koudela III

Jonathan Schwartz

Katherine Silver

Kathlene Casey

Kristen Caven

Lenore Weiss


Maggie Stogner

Mark Eley

Mark Pritchard

Matthew Hughes

Mike Hamm


Nick Mastick

Norma Blase Perelstein

Peter Dean & Olga Pappas

Philippa Wright


Rich Yurman


Sokol Zace

Steve Sajadi

Sue Ann Van Epps

Tim Gnazale


Vicki Burns