Press Roundup

REVERBERANT: POEMS & MUSIC (Oct. 2019)

"Seductive, clever, whimsical, provocative but always heartfelt verse – backed by the imaginative accompaniment of Bay Area musicians...truly riveting listening sessions."  

- Jonathan Widran, The JW Vibe 

_______________________________ 

Riding the bleeding edge of the jazz and poetry resurgence... she's writing and performing her own material instead of dipping in the established bag... delightful.

- Chris Spector/Midwest Record 

_______________________________ 

 "An inventive and often haunting set...Listeners who like spoken word albums will enjoy this colorful effort."

- Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene

______________________________

"A unique, scintillating performance... with jazz passion and a lot of style." 

- D. Oscar  Groomes , O's Place Jazz Newsletter

______________________________

"Kinetic recitation with jazz accompaniment...often homages to the jazz masters who’ve inspired her."

- Andrew Gilbert, San Francisco Classical Voice

_____________________________

"Inspired and works on several levels. Best keep our eye on her.” 

- C. Michael Bailey, The One From the Other

_____________________________

"Haunting...dramatic...meditative...  Bohemia after dark." 

- George Harris, Jazz Weekly

_____________________________

"Each listening reveals previously undiscovered depths of brilliant artistry and colorful storytelling. Not to be missed!

- Chris Cooke, KIOS-FM

 

I GET A KICK: COLE PORTER REIMAGINED (2018)

“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

_____________________________

“An infectious sense of swing.”   

- George Harris, Jazz Weekly 

_____________________________  

“Bernstein reinterprets the Porter Songbook… to magnify the American Treasure that is these songs...shows an acute attention to rhythm, tempo, and time... total command of the material.”   

- C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz

_____________________________   

“A fine jazz singer with a strong voice and a wide range... modernize[s] the classic songs without… losing their essences… rewarding and intriguing.”

- Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene 

_____________________________ 

“Jazz vocal fans can throw up their hands and rejoice.

- Chris Spector, Midwest Record

_____________________________ 

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

- Andrew Gilbert, Berkeleyside 

_____________________________ 

“Her magical voice will hold you spellbound… this is about as hip & 'New York' as it gets when it comes to jazz.”   

- Dick Metcalf, Contemporary Fusion Reviews

_____________________________    

“Made fresh by the...engaging and intriguing treatment... the arrangements... and the singer’s emotional commitment.”   

- Bruce Crowther, Jazz Mostly

_____________________________ 

“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  

 

CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE (AND CHANUKAH AND THE SOLSTICE) (2011)

"A vibrant, diverse holiday record that sees Lisa B working through a number of Christmas standards, originals, and Jewish tunes with an energy that is enchanting."

- Jordan Richardson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

____________________________

"Authenticate[s] and liven[s] up the...standard Christmas fare...exuberant, confident flair...[in]three original compositions that her daring bravado shows brightly." 

- Carol Banks Weber, jazz critic, Examiner.com

____________________________

"Shimmering, layered orchestration...  “Holiday in Oakland” funks along easily." 

- Kirk Silsbee, L.A. Times

____________________________

"The range is from the super-traditional to music-backed poetry… Don’t like a particular piece? Coming up will be something you’ll love." 

– Doug Boynton, Girlsingers.com

____________________________

"The sure-bet holiday music that should be playing in hipper households over the next few months.Tasty throughout." 

- Chris Spector, Midwest Record

____________________________

 "Eclectic, fun and highly entertaining."

- Brent Black, @Critical Jazz blog and Courier-journal.com

 

THE POETRY OF GROOVE (2009)

 "Spoken word beautifully sung excursions...in a bunch of snazzy grooves...from hip-hop to slinky jazzification....spiritually uplifting...Oh, did I mention that Lisa B can bring the sexy?"

- Mark Saleski, Blogcritics.com

____________________________

“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, Canadian Audiophile

____________________________

“B continues to ride the progressive tip with a creative abandon that makes it seem easy to break convention and get away with it. As sexy as you can sound without being a...70s diva.” 

– Chris Spector, Midwest Record 

____________________________ 

Lisa's signature alto, by turns smoky and lapidary, awakens us to her spiritual travels with infectious rhythms and witticisms that are seductively inviting… She brings a refreshingly maverick cadence to the spoken-word experience.

-  Michael E. Ross of Culchavox, on Amazon

 

WHAT'S NEW, PUSSYCAT? (2006)

“Sultry and witty and not at all precious... Her own songs are fun and sexy, and she brings a fresh voice to well-known songs....Great musicians make ‘What’s New, Pussycat?’ come alive and help Lisa B keep the atmosphere fun and swinging.”  

– Joseph Taylor, SoundstageAV.com 

____________________________ 

"Lisa’s voice is flexible and harmonious, beautifully altering between the highs and lows of her sympatico range."

- Sounds of Timeless Jazz

____________________________

"Musically and vocally... has a lot going for it…Bernstein uses the word cat as a metaphor — as hipster/beatnik/bebop slang — and she is really singing about human situations on jazzy, playful originals...From Bernstein’s own material to....intriguing arrangements [of covers]...memorable and clever CD.”

- All Music Guide

____________________________

Lisa showcases the power and delight of both cats themselves and her own inner feline...brings her special swinging, jazzy style to standards like the Bacharach title tune (very different when sung by a sexy woman than by Tom Jones, my friends!), as well as her own unique compositions.

- Jackadandy.net

____________________________

 "The force is strong with this one. We're dealing with creativity here on a level that will soar above many. The backing musicians are very, very good.

- Doug Boynton, Girlsingers.org

____________________________

"This set starts out with Lisa B putting her chops in evidence but leaving you thinking she's an acquired taste. By the end of the set, you've acquired the taste... Lisa B is a wild ride...the two of you become old friends and you are satisfied to let her entertain you...You don't trip over pipes like these every day." 

- Chris Spector, Midwest Record

____________________________

“Convey[s] the deeply human emotions of longing and satisfaction, danger and playfulness. Purr along to her collection of both original compositions and classic covers.” 

- Catster, formerly Cat Fancy

 ____________________________

 “Bringing in her background as a poet…really pays off...The tunes are not just interpreted but placed in entirely different contexts. It'll easily put a smile on your face.”

- Mark Saleski, Blogcritics.com

 

CENTER OF THE RHYME (2003)

“Fresh, very interesting, impressive: Lisa B is a brand-new Somebody. And the writing… I was lifted up… gorgeous.”  

– Jackie McLean, saxophone master

 ____________________________ 

Lisa Bernstein's mix of spoken word poetry... and passionate jazzy, high-register vocalizing is… hard to resist.” 

–  All Music Guide 

 ____________________________ 

“Exudes up-front sexuality…an overflowing measure of soul.” 

– Cadence 

 ____________________________

“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

 ____________________________

 “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

____________________________

"Up-and-coming jazz singer Lisa B...brings a whole new take on some familiar songs as well as quirky originals."

- Monterey Times-Herald

 

FREE ME FOR THE JOY (2009)

"Lisa B produces a hybrid sound of jazz-pop, contemporary jazz and spoken word — all with a bit of underlying swing."

- Jason Koransky, Downbeat

____________________________

"Built up a following in the urban cultural phenomenon...rich, throaty voice and lively command of the language."

- Rebecca Rosen Lum, Jewish Bulletin of Northern California & Washington D.C. JewishWeek

____________________________

"Lisa B is creative, versatile and offers an enjoyable set on her debut release."

- Paula Edelstein, Jazzreview.com

____________________________

"Bay Area singer-songwriter-poet Lisa B pulls all her talents together on her debut album…Lisa B is certainly capable of bringing Joy.” 

- Dave Hughes, CDNow

____________________________

"A dramatic, drawn-out, emotional voice...should be commended for her finer songwriting efforts

- Jonathan Widran, Jazziz

____________________________

"Lisa B brings a fresh voice to today’s contemporary jazz.” 

- Dave Hughes, Allaboutjazz.com

 

THE TRANSPARENT BODY (1989)

“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.” 

–  Frances Mayes, author, in San Jose Mercury 

____________________________

ANOREXIA (1985)

 “Brilliantly imagined, painful, intense, often strangely beautiful." 

- Frances Jaffer
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

“Its themes of domination, withdrawal… and the various forms of craving that constitute life make this… each person’s story. One day is fine; the next we find ourselves in a state without longing.”

- Stan Rice 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"A witty, charged experiment...Bernstein’s heroine finally breaks the shackles of the taboos that surround her to reinvent herself in a new form.”

- Kevin Killian, Poetry Flash

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reverberant: Poems & Music

Each listening reveals previously undiscovered depths of brilliant artistry and colorful storytelling

 "Lisa B's "Reverberant" is a rich, insightful recording. This is arguably her finest record to date in a 20-year plus recording and performing career. 

From the San Franscisco Bay Area, Lisa Bernstein weaves a compelling series of musical narratives that draw the listener in. Lisa presents spoken & sung vocals and original verse on all of the selections of this new CD, featuring a wide variety of supporting players for her rich, deep, enchanting voice. 

She starts the CD with a look back at Billie Holiday for "Billie Goes Home/Lover Man" which presents a compelling presentation of the persona of Lady Day, before easing into the legendary signer's signature tune. 

And there are many other highlights to savor. "I Am an Orchestra,"originally released earlier this year, features Scott R. Looney on keyboards for a stirring tribute to Cecil Taylor, legendary free jazz pianist and a family friend. 

Other highlights include "Insulin Shock" which presents the musical retelling of a health crisis and vivid, personal experiences of the Divine on "Listen" and "God No. 2" (Remastered). This is one of the few new and authentic avant-garde vocal CDs of the last decade. 

Each listening reveals previously undiscovered depths of brilliant artistry and colorful storytelling. Not to be missed! 

Lisa Bernstein is an accomplished performance artist, educator and poet.  Her poems have appeared in more than 60 literary magazines and anthologies. In addition, her poetry book “The Transparent Body” was published by the prestigious Wesleyan University Press. 

A resident of Oakland, California for more than two decades, her recording from 2018, “I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined” has many bright moments including a version of  “Night and Day,” which blends Cole Porter's original version of the tune with Lisa's seductive, timeless original spoken verse." 

- Chris Cooke, KIOS-FM

__________________________________________________

Haunting...dramatic...meditative... Bohemia after dark

"Lisa Bernstein sings, delivers poetry and verse on this album that has her mix and match with James Gardiner/synth-keys, Ben Flint/key, Scott R. Looney/key, Marcus Shelby/b and Jeff Marrs/dr. 

She likes telling stories in an intimate fashion, going artsy on “Billie Goes Home/Lover Man” and speaking easy to a Monkish Gardiner and Marrs on “Listen.” 

Her voice is haunting on the harrowing “Some Things To Do With Pain” and is dramatic on “To Propagate,” creating synthy moods on the meditative “God No. 2.”  Bohemia after dark." 

- George Harris, Jazz Weekly

___________________________________________________

Drops the plumb line deep

“In her 2018 reconsideration of Cole Porter compositions, "I Get a Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined" (Jazzed Media), Lisa Bernstein dropped the plumb line deep. She does the same on "Reverberant: Poems & Music," where Lisa B pairs her own poetry with her sung lyrics. 

Of note are the opening poem “Billie Goes Home” coupled with the iconic “Lover Man.” Her duet with bassist Marcus Shelby, “Bassist, Almost Alone,” captures the intimacy of that instrument with the voice, naked. Her recasting of the traditional Pater Noster is inspired and works on several levels. Best keep our eye on her.”

 - C. Michael Bailey, The One From the Other

___________________________________________

Seductive, clever, whimsical, provocative but always heartfelt verse – backed by the imaginative accompaniment of Bay Area musicians

"Only the multi-talented jazz singer, songwriter and poet Lisa B has been weaving the kind of “must pay attention to every word" storytelling magic that we hear on "Reverberant: Poems and Music" throughout her unique 20-year career. 

The new collection features a dynamic twist on Lisa’s usual approach of inserting spoken word segments into vocal-dominated tunes. Here, complementing...recent poetry-dominated jazz excursions by Matt Wilson, Helen Sung with Dana Gioia and Benjamin Boone with Philip Levine, Lisa’s creative thrust is her seductive, clever, whimsical, provocative but always heartfelt verse – backed by the imaginative accompaniment of Bay Area musicians, pianist/keyboardists Scott R. Looney and Ben Flint, drummer Jeff Marrs, bassist Marcus Shelby and multi-instrumentalist and project engineer James Gardiner. 

As skilled a jazz interpreter as she is, there’s something even more inviting about her poetry readings, which prompt truly riveting listening sessions. 

Though she tackles subjects ranging from healing and God/divinity, the highlights are thoughtful, piercing homages to Billie Holiday (a medley of spoken word “channeling” and “Lover Man”), longtime family friend and recently departed jazz legend and poet Cecil Taylor (“I Am An Orchestra”) and Max Roach (via the percussion-rich “With Him and Max’s Solo”)."

- Jonathan Widran, The JW Vibe

_______________________________________________

The kitty who should open the show for Tom Waits

“LISA B...is riding the bleeding edge of the jazz and poetry resurgence movement exuding a persona of a Tom Waits fellow traveler without the rasp... 

The difference here...is that she's writing and performing her own material instead of dipping in the established bag... 

if Waits wants to go back to his beatnik days, she could easily be the kitty/thrush that opens the show for him....delightful." 

- Chris Spector, Midwest Record

_______________________________________

The East Bay Express and J. Poet featured Lisa B's very first record-release show for "Reverberant: Poems & Music" as pick of the week

-----------------------------------------------

Lisa B is featured in this roundup of notable poetry/jazz artists (including Ben Boone/Phil Levine, Matt Wilson, and Luciana Souza) from critic Andrew Gilbert 

“For Oakland jazz vocalist Lisa B (aka Lisa Bernstein), creating an album setting her own verse to music completed a journey that started on the page. Long before she began performing as a singer, she toiled as a poet whose work was published in a number of respected literary journals. 

When she turned her attention to singing she often wrote her own material and gradually incorporated spoken-word passages into her performances. 

Her new album, "Reverberant: Poems & Music" (Piece of Pie Records), features her kinetic recitation with jazz accompaniment. Her poems are often homages to the jazz masters who’ve inspired her or chronicles of self-enlightenment. 

“In this project I’m circling back to where I started, free verse poems written for the page,” says B... "I approached this as: Here are these existing poems. What do they need to be realized?” ” 

- Andrew Gilbert, San Francisco Classical Voice

_______________________________________________

O's Place Jazz Newsletter

A  unique, passionate performance

Noteworthy, minimalist contributions from musicians

"Lisa B (Bernstein) is singing, chanting & reciting spoken word, and she’s doing it in style with minimalist jazzy accompaniment behind her.

Get ready for a unique, scintillating performance.

There’s a stirring rendition and adaptation of the Lord’s Prayer on “Lisa’s Lord’s Prayers.” Bernstein delivers an exceptional oratory experience sweet with jazz passion and a lot of style.

They are noteworthy performances from Jeff Marrs (d) on “With Him and Max’s Solo,” Marcus Shelby (b) on “Bassist, Almost Alone,” and Scott Looney (p) on “I Am an Orchestra.” 

Lisa took a risk with "Reverberant: Poems & Music" and it was well worth it!"

- D. Oscar  Groomes , O's Place Jazz Newsletter

_______________________________________________

 

Inventive and often haunting

Colorful spoken word including jazz homages

"Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) has a strong reputation as a creative jazz singer. However she is also a published poet and, on Reverberant, she emphasizes the latter.

The spoken word set has her reciting, acting out, and occasionally singing her poetry. Assisted on various tracks (usually by just one or two musicians) by Ben Flint or Scott R. Looney on keyboards, bassist Marcus Shelby, and drummer Jeff Marrs, with James Gardiner playing all of the accompanying instruments on three pieces, Lisa B has created an inventive and often haunting set.

Along the way she pays tribute to Cecil Taylor (“I Am An Orchestra”) who was a family friend, Billie Holiday, Max Roach, and bassists in general, sings about being a diabetic, includes a new Lord’s Prayer... concluding the set with a collage of excerpts from the previous ten pieces.

Listeners who like spoken word albums will enjoy this colorful effort."

- Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene

______________________________

 

Selected Fan Reviews - Reverberant: Poems & Music

"I have been listening to Lisa B’s new CD all week in the car, a perfect environment for focused attention. 

Her work with Ben Flint and everyone else is stunning. It’s a tour de force. It improves upon continued listening. It keeps giving back. 

My personal favorite is “Insulin Shock.” Ben’s tender melody with Lisa B’s incisive confessions are breathtaking. I played it over and over and wept with it. Loved “Some Things To Do with Pain.” And loved the vocalizations that punctuated it. Lisa gave these musicians a broad palette to express themselves, and to express her work. This CD is well worth buying." 

 – N.B. 

--------------- 

"One word to describe Lisa B’s new CD: BRILLIANT! 

Her poetry is amazing. Favorites are “With Him and Max's Solo,” “I Am an Orchestra,” “Bassist, Almost Alone,” and “Listen.” It's such an interesting album, really a work of art. And it's the most avant-garde album she has ever done." 

– M.D. 

----------------- 

"This is such a unique and beautiful album by a fully realized artist and human being. 

Between lyric and rap, Lisa B's spoken word jams reverberate – yes, that's the perfect word – through the mind and heart in an upward wave, a literary crossover to music, leaving space for ripples of harmony, rhythm, awareness. Highly recommended! "

 – K. Caven 

----------------- 

"I love this record. To my taste, it's the best thing Lisa B has ever done. 

She sounds fantastic, with real expressive range. For the most part, the arrangements and production are TERRIFIC.

My favorites are the musician duets with Lisa, which work like nobody’s business with her poems. She has really hit her groove with this. 

Completely unique work. I've been waiting for this record for a long time." 

 – C.C. 

------------------- 

"I've been listening to this record all week long...so beautiful. I've come to one conclusion about Lisa B’s voice: it embodies the essence of life, soulfully combining wisdom, joy, pain, and much more. 

I hear some of my favorite people within – from Angela Bofill to Maya Angelou to Anita Baker to Billie Holiday, but then again...not. Her style is unique and I could listen to it forever. I hope Lisa keeps doing her thang – I’m loving it." 

– D.G. 

----------------------- 

"This album.... 

... is so beautiful. 

!!!!!!!!!!!! 

First of all: Lisa B’s voice, as it segues from poetic line to song-line, is so warm, husky, relaxed, gorgeous. 

In every cut, the music and the words really do create "something else" –  not poem, not song, but both and THEN some....a transcendent hybrid. 

I especially love the last few songs, where the spirituality comes through.... 

All this is from one listen. "

– M.B. 

-----------------------

"It's been 15 or 20 years since I first heard the poem “With Him and Max’s Solo” read aloud (without music), so I gave it a good listen on Lisa B’s new record – more than once, actually. 

I love the cascade of imagery: Max as a musical griot, and the nightclub standing in for a slave ship (“the hull of the jazz club” –  brilliant). 

Then Max's role as interpreter of that diaspora takes over the poem. By the end, with his drum kit “talking the beginning of the world,” Lisa has taken us on a journey, from one performance at a nightclub to a vision of Max Roach, enlisted in the long train of drummers of time immemorial." 

 – Michael E. Ross (music and pop culture critic)

I Am an Orchestra: A Tribute to Cecil Taylor (Single from "Reverberant")

Lisa B's digital single, "I Am an Orchestra: A Tribute to Cecil Taylor" was released in late March 2019 in advance of the album "Reverberant: Poems & Music" to honor the first anniversary of the April 5 passing of legendary pianist Cecil Taylor, who was a longtime friend of Lisa's family.

A performance of Lisa's original poem with pianist Scott R. Looney, it attracted a trifecta of jazz press attention and a conversation with one of Lisa's favorite jazz DJs.

Jazziz magazine ran a story and song premiere, All About Jazz spotlighted it with a free download, and Jazz Times featured the poem-song along with a story to mark the first anniversary of Cecil's passing, including links to their previous pieces on his groundbreaking role in contemporary music along with a new written (in words) tribute by pianist Myra Melford. Finally, Neon Jazz did a brief interview with Lisa and included the tune in a radio broadcast from Kansas City.

Here's a post about the new poem-tune that also links to reminiscences about Lisa's connection with Cecil. She writes, "I was extremely lucky that my path and Cecil's crossed and to have heard his unforgettable music at such a young age. Thank you, Cecil, for your genius and kindness."

I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined

Rewarding and intriguing updates of classic songs

"Lisa B is a fine jazz singer with a strong voice and a wide range who hits high notes particularly well.

She has also been a poet for as long as she has sung, having a parallel career that includes having a book of her work published and contributing to top literary journals.

On her sixth CD as a leader, Lisa B performs ten Cole Porter songs composed during 1929-54. Porter’s music and lyrics have been performed and recorded a countless number of times through the years, so on some of these selections, Lisa B tries something different than usual. She utilizes new arrangements that sometimes include additional lyrics that she wrote along with spoken word passages.

She...update[s] and modernize[s] the classic songs without making them unrecognizable or losing their essence.

...Lisa B is joined by either James Gardiner, Ben Flint, or Frank Martin on keyboards, Fred Randolph, Troy Lampkins, or Gardiner on bass, Jeff Marrs, Alan Hall, or Paul van Wageningen on drums and, for two songs apiece, percussionist John Santos and Michael Zilber on soprano and tenor.

Among the songs that Lisa B transforms a bit are “I Get A Kick Out Of You” (which has her joined by just bass and drums), a bossa nova version of “Easy To Love,” the obscure “I Happen To Like New York” (on which she adds some storytelling about her grandparents emigrating to NYC...), “What Is This Thing Called Love” (featuring her speaking poetically about what is love), a funky “All Of You” and “a rendition of “Night and Day” with electronic backing.

Some of the highpoints are the more straightforward interpretations that feature her voice very well including a duet with the bassist on “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” and a slow version of “In The Still Of The Night,” which has her joined by the wailing soprano by Zilber.

All in all, this is a rewarding and intriguing effort."

- Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene

______________________________

An extraordinary album with richly emotional singing and an unexpected taste of rap

"Lisa Bernstein is an intelligent woman who actively plays the part of not only a jazz singer but also a poet and a performer. This new work is a collection of ten Cole Porter (1891-1964) tunes selected from hit musicals. 

This is an extraordinary album that takes songs from the American songbook and adds bold poetry ("Sonia and Solomon/I Happen to like New York"), an unexpected taste of rap ("What Is This Thing Called Love?"), richly emotional singing ("All of You"), and exotic moods ("Night and Day"). 

Her arrangements are out of the ordinary and I sense she is trying to set a new standard for the 21st century." 

- Hiroshi Ogawa, Jazz Life Japan

________________________________

Magnifies the American treasure that is these songs

Total command of the material

"Cole Porter has long been a bottomless loam of material for jazz musicians. On her sixth release as a leader Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) turns her attention to the Porter songbook. Bernstein's five previous releases were [mainly] of originally composed music... A published poet, Bernstein perused the Porter catalog and selected ten songs to reinterpret with the intention of spinning them on their ear. This is often a dicey approach when not well considered, but this is not a problem for Bernstein, who lacks no confidence in taking these sacred songs on. 

Bernstein reinterprets the Porter Songbook in such a way 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.
 
In trio performance with bass and drums, Bernstein displays her total command of the material. "In the Still of the night" is cast as a brooding and dark ballad, characterized by low piano notes mixed with a nervous saxophone played by Michael Zilber. "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" is the lengthiest song, and is given a sultry treatment that is both sexy and sad. Again Bernstein takes full advantage of Fred Randolph's solid bass chops.

The rocking center of the disc is a percolating "All of You," shimmering in all of its finery." 
 
- C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz

_________________________________

"Oakland jazz singer Lisa B celebrates the release of her new album "I Get a Kick Out of You: Cole Porter Reimagined" (Jazzed Media) Saturday at The Back Room with a superb band featuring pianist Frank Martin, bassist Fred Randolph, and drummer Kelly Fasman. Her previous albums have mostly focused on her original songs, though in performance she’s always explored American Songbook standards. 

Long fascinated by Porter’s life and music, B brings her poet’s incisive ear to uncovering the roiling emotions beneath Porter’s glittering confections. 

 “Cole Porter was just very alluring,” says B, who performs with the same excellent band March 3 at Saratoga’s Café Pink House. “Part of it is that he’s very unusual as both a lyricist and composer. He was very wealthy, this high society guy who seemed to feel very alone in the crowd. And he was gay in this long-term platonic marriage, which is another layer of isolation. But mostly he was just an amazing creator of songs. The poet in me was drawn to him. There’s this Dorothy Parker/ Emily Dickinson effortless scanning of his lines, and often this sense of longing and heartbreak.

I wanted to think through how could we express these tunes to open a new window into Porter.” " 

- Andrew Gilbert, Berkeleyside

_____________________________

"Her magical voice will hold you spellbound as she performs songs like “In the Still of the Night” … this is about as hip & “New York” as it gets when it comes to jazz, folks… the ultimate in cool jazz vocals! 

Lisa is a poet as well as a player, so she is uniquely able to re-interpret Porter songs that are favorites for all true jazz lovers… just listen to her marvelous performance on the dazzling “All of You” & you’ll fall in love with her jazz/music...! 

Lisa has a stellar cast of players with her as well… just scan this list – James Gardiner,  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) – and they’re totally in synch with her enchanting jazz vocals! 

It was easy to pick my personal favorite of the ten tunes offered up: “Ev’rytime We Say Goodbye” will be playing often on your player (as it does on mine). The bass lines take me (way back) to songs from Peggy Lee and other heroines of the ’50’s & ’60’s jazz scene, but with Lisa’s shimmering/shiny vocal making it stand out for all time! 

[A] high-talent vocalist!" 

- Rotcod Zzaj (Dick Metcalf), Contemporary Fusion Reviews

__________________________________________________________

"A polished, accomplished cabaret take on Cole Porter classics with her own interstitial material added to make it a whole show...these are songs she’s loved her whole life and the affection is poured into every note. 

Jazz vocal fans can throw up their hands and rejoice.” 

- Chris Spector, Midwest Record

_______________________________

    Jazz Mostly

"Lisa B’s love for poetry and other forms of the spoken word is as important to her as her love of singing. For this, her latest release, she has chosen to sing the songs of Cole Porter, whose work consistently demonstrates that he too was at heart a poet. 

The ‘re-imagining’ indicated by this album’s subtitle is largely musical, choosing interesting tempi and rhythmic pulses not always associated with this composer. Examples of this come on the funky "Night And Day" and the Brazilian-flavored "You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To." 

The spoken word is heard very effectively in her introduction to "I Happen To Like New York," which reflects on her immigrant forebears' life-changing moment of arrival in their new homeland. Among the other songs here are "Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye," "Wake Up And Dream" and "Easy to Love." 

Although all of the songs heard here are familiar, they are made fresh by the always engaging and intriguing treatment they are given, notably through the arrangements (by Lisa and Jim) and the singer’s emotional commitment." 

- Bruce Crowther, Jazz Mostly 

_____________________________

An infectious sense of swing

"Lisa Bernstein delivers both vocals and poetry as she interprets Cole Porter. She tells bits of stories on “Wake up and Dream” and “Sonia and Solomon/I Happen to Like New York” while going modal on “In the Still of the Night” and languid on “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.” She has an infectious sense of swing as on “Easy to Love” and “I Get A Kick Out of You.”

- George Harris

_______________

Downbeat critic Ted Panken's liner notes

A True American Original
 
In my booklet notes for Lisa B’s second full-length album, Center of the Rhyme (2003), which comprised her striking original compositions and collaborations, I described the Oakland-based singer-poet as “a rugged individualist of the jazz tribe [who] articulates her accomplished narrative with a tonal personality entirely her own.” Fifteen years later, on her sixth CD, B embodies those same qualities in a distinctive homage to Cole Porter (1891-1964).

She places her lovely instrument at the service of ten songs composed for stage and screen between 1929 (“Wake Up and Dream”) and 1954 (“All of You”). With the freewheeling control of the raw materials that only the finest jazz practitioners possess, B (short for Bernstein) takes possession of Porter’s witty, poignant stories. She deploys her considerable interpretative vocal gifts to deliver the message, occasionally interpolating her own spoken word passages for an evocative multilayered effect (on “What Is This Thing Called Love?” [1929], “I Happen to Like New York” [1931], and “Night and Day” [1932]).

Lisa B’s approach to Porter echoes her remarks about the Art Ensemble of Chicago—a deep if not obvious influence—during one of our first conversations. “Their goal is to create a whole from various sources,” she said. “I love their ‘It's all possible’ attitude, the complete artistic freedom and invention they personify, their incredible versatility and dedication to craft and discipline.”

B’s first documented immersion in Cole Porter’s work is on her 2006 CD What’s New, Pussycat?, where she augmented a suite of largely original songs with interpretations of “Night and Day” and “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” (1942), presented here in remastered form.
 
“I got a lot of positive reaction to both tunes,” B says, explaining her decision to focus on Porter’s songs, and not her own, as the creative springboard for this project. “I feel a real affinity with him; it’s also fun to inhabit someone else’s work and take a left turn with it. Porter was such a brilliant songwriter, both a composer and a lyricist. What he’s doing seems simple maybe, and then you get into it, and just a little half-step and he’s in a whole different place. Also, he was gay or bisexual, but pretty closeted—there’s this sense of longing and heartbreak and isolation, as well as being Mister Society Guy. And there’s the wit, commenting not only on high society but also on the larger society. You always feel he’s the outsider on the inside. His body of work has a more profound doubleness than most of the Great American Songbook.”
 

In culling Porter’s corpus for tunes that could serve as vehicles for “adventurous interpretations that have not been done before” (B’s goal), she relied, of course, on personal taste (“probably it leans towards love songs”), but also on her encyclopedic knowledge of American music canons.

Consider how she starts the CD-opening “I Get A Kick Out of You” (1934), sing-speaking the verse in duo with Fred Randolph’s conversational bass accompaniment. As the drums enter and the pace ratchets to edgy fingerpopping swing, she illuminates the lyric with luminous timbre and precise articulation, then transitions seamlessly to a pair of original vocalese choruses.

She signifies on the eternal question posed by “What Is This Thing Called Love?” with a lengthy spoken word declamation over a beguine rhythm, backdropped by a horn section (B’s long-time collaborator and co-producer, Jim Gardiner, executes all the instruments on this track except for Jeff Marrs’ drums).

And her intense, erotic reading of “In the Still of the Night” (1937) includes Michael Zilber’s keening soprano saxophone obbligatos and a funky rhythmic base inspired by Randy Weston’s Monkish approach on his 1954 debut recording.

B also stimulates the senses when rendering the songs straight-no-chaser. That’s evident in her clarion reading of the less-traveled “Wake Up and Dream,” which she describes as “a dreamy, inspiring waltz,” and the yearning she evokes on the more oft-covered “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,” counterstated by a percolating bossa beat.

On “I Happen to Like New York” she melds straight interpretation with pure imagination: after a fondly ironic opening vignette depicting the arrival of her grandparents, Sonia and Solomon, from the old country to Ellis Island on July 4, 1923, she morphs into Porter’s heartfelt paean to the “new city” into which they disembark.

The image of arriving into a new city is an apt metaphor for the fresh, in-the-moment approach that Lisa B, a true American original, brings to every second of this inspired recital.
 
Ted Panken, Downbeat critic, recipient of the Jazz Journalists Association 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award

_______________________________________________

See the amusing story on Lisa B, including some quirky personal details, preceding a 2015 show.

Hip replacement, teaching kids, and more. Here's the link.

Holiday in Oakland (Single from "Christmas Time Is Here...")

" "Holiday in Oakland” funks along easily." 
- Kirk Silsbee, Los Angeles Times

________________________________

"Lisa B wields her talent for mixmastering musical styles in "Holiday in Oakland," a paean to her California hometown that combines midtempo funk with a lyric tribute to some of Oaktown's musical heroes." 
- Michael E. Ross, blogger and critic on PopMatters, The Root, and elsewhere, writing on Amazon

_______________________________________

Christmas Time Is Here (and Chanukah and the Solstice)